EU details sanctions on violent Israeli settlers in West Bank

Brussels, April 19 (IANS/DPA): The European Union has imposed sanctions on radical Israeli settlers in the West Bank for the first time, targeting four individuals for acts of violence against Palestinians.



The agreement was finalized on Friday by a written procedure that allows member states to make decisions on urgent matters without sending ministers to Brussels. The law giving effect to the sanctions and detailing those targeted was published in the EU's statute book a few hours later.


The sanctions target four individuals and two organisations. Those subject to sanctions will no longer be allowed to enter the EU or do business with EU citizens, and any assets or accounts they have in the EU will be frozen.


The measures were imposed under an EU sanctions regime designed to punish human rights abuses.


The first new name on the EU sanctions list is Neria Ben Pazi, who "established four of the most violent outposts in the West Bank," the legal text says.


The term "outposts" refers to settlements not authorised by the Israeli government. Ben Pazi is accused by the EU of repeatedly attacking Palestinians in Wadi Seeq and Deir Jarir.


The second name is Yinon Levi. The sanctions notice says he "has taken part in multiple violent acts against neighbouring villages from his residence in the Mitarim farm illegal outpost."


Also now under sanctions is Meir Ettinger. According to the EU, he is "a leading figure of the Hilltop Youth, a radical youth group consisting of members known for violent acts against Palestinians and their villages in the West Bank."


The fourth is Elisha Yered, who's also associated with the Hilltop Youth, the sanctions note says.


The two organisations now subject to EU sanctions are the aforementioned Hilltop Youth and Lehava, which "is a radical right-wing Jewish supremacist group," the EU says.


The EU decision follows similar moves by the United States and Britain. In March, the US sanctioned three individuals - including Ben Pazi - and two outposts, including Levi's Mitarim farm.


In February, the British government imposed sanctions on four individuals, including Levi and the leader of the other outpost sanctioned by the US.


Diplomats told dpa the sanctions would ideally lead to the Israeli authorities taking a harder line against settler violence against Palestinian villages and olive groves.


The sanctions have been on the table for a long time, but they needed the consent of all 27 EU member states, and the Hungarian government blocked the move until last month. Part of the agreement meant imposing new sanctions against Islamist groups.


While the EU has long condemned the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal, this is the first time it has taken punitive measures against settlers.



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