EU states said to be planning fresh sanctions against Israel

Officials say new measures will go into effect if peace talks don’t resume after elections

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Illustrative photo of a West Bank settlement, December 17, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a West Bank settlement, December 17, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

European Union member states are planning new sanctions against Israel that will be implemented if peace negotiations with Palestinians do not resume following the March elections, it was reported Tuesday.

The proposed plan would include “sanctions against companies that conduct business over the Green Line, support in the legal proceedings of Palestinians in the issue of settlements and also renewing the proposal to create a Palestinian state through the Security Council,” according to an Israeli official who met recently with European leaders in Brussels, the Hebrew-language Walla website reported.

Israeli officials in several European capitals said the proposals have buy-in from all countries in the EU, according to the report.

The EU has threatened sanctions against Israel for several years in an effort to prod forward the peace process with the Palestinians and discourage settlement expansion.

According to one of the Israeli officials briefed by European leaders, the process of imposing sanctions was delayed by elections, but will likely be picked up should peace efforts not restart after Israelis go to the polls on March 17.

“For some of the countries there is the hope that after the elections there is a chance to renew the negotiations with the Palestinians. But now it does not seem like that will happen, and therefore they are planning to shift into a higher gear,” the official said.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett told representatives of the European Union that Israel would not endanger itself to avoid sanctions, in a closed door meeting Monday.

“To single out Israel, to twist our arms economically, in the hopes that we’ll commit suicide because financially we’ll get hit if we don’t — it’s immoral from my perspective,” Bennett told the diplomats, according to a tape of the meeting leaked to Army Radio and published Tuesday. “Instead of understanding… we’re the big dam in this big river of terror.”

Bennett’s office declined to comment on his message to the representatives, which included envoys from 26 out of the 28 EU countries, and noted only that “things that were said behind closed doors should remain there.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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