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19 Apr, 2024 17:12

EU sanctions Israeli ‘extremists’

Brussels has accused settlers of human rights abuses against Palestinians
EU sanctions Israeli ‘extremists’

The European Union announced on Friday it was sanctioning four “extremist settlers” and two entities over human rights abuses – including torture – of Palestinians in the West Bank.

The two sanctioned organizations were named as Lehava, a “radical right-wing Jewish supremacist group,” and Hilltop Youth, described as “a radical youth group” whose members are known for “violent acts against Palestinians.”

Hilltop Youth leaders Meir Ettinger and Elisha Yered, accused of involvement in “deadly attacks against Palestinians in 2015 and 2023,” were named on the EU blacklist. As did Neria Ben Pazi, accused of attacking Palestinians in Wadi Seeq and in Deir Jarir since 2021, and Yinon Levi, based in the “illegal outpost” of Mitarim.

The measure was announced by the European Council, invoking its 2020 decree establishing the Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, which allowed the block to punish abuses ranging from arbitrary arrests and torture to genocide.

“The EU has decided to sanction extremist settlers in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem for serious human rights abuses against Palestinians,” the EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on X (formerly Twitter).

The abuses include “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” as well as “the violation of right to property and to private and family life” of the Palestinians in the West Bank, according to the European Council.

Any assets the sanctioned persons or entities have in the EU are subject to being frozen and all trade or transactions with them are prohibited. The four individuals are also banned from traveling to the bloc.

Earlier in the day, Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter said that Brussels would urge the EU to “re-evaluate our Association Agreement with Israel” and co-sponsor Palestinian membership in the UN. De Sutter also called for “an EU-wide import duty on products coming from illegal Israeli settlements.”

The West Bank is the territory of the former Palestine Mandate that belonged to Jordan from 1949 and 1967, at which point Israel took it over by force. Israelis have been moving into the territory for decades, with the UN recording over 24,000 homes built there between November 2022 and the end of October 2023. The UN has urged the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza for decades, but Israel remains opposed.