ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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France sanctions 28 Israeli ‘extremist settlers’ accused of attacks

Paris cites spiraling West Bank violence in recent months, says onus is on Israel’s government to stop it

A Palestinian man inspects a car damaged during an alleged attack by Israeli settlers in the village of Asira al-Qibliyah, south of Nablus, in the West Bank on February 13, 2024. (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)
A Palestinian man inspects a car damaged during an alleged attack by Israeli settlers in the village of Asira al-Qibliyah, south of Nablus, in the West Bank on February 13, 2024. (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

France on Tuesday announced sanctions against 28 Israelis who were accused of committing violent acts against Palestinians in the West Bank.

The “extremist Israeli settlers,” who were not named, are now banned from French territory.

“These measures come as violence perpetrated by settlers against the Palestinian population has increased in recent months,” said a statement by the Quai d’Orsay, adding that it is Israel’s responsibility to stop such violence and prosecute the perpetrators.

UN figures show that daily settler attacks have more than doubled since Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on October 7, in which terrorists killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped 253, and the ensuing war in Gaza.

While much international attention has focused on the war in Gaza, European officials have also expressed increasing concern about rising violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

The French announcement came after the United Kingdom on Monday said it was sanctioning four “extremist Israeli settlers” accused of committing human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israeli soldiers scuffle with Jewish settlers from the nearby Einav settlement, trying to storm the town of Deir Sharaf in the Nablus governorate of the West Bank on November 2, 2023, after an Israeli was killed when his car came under fire. (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

The United States had already announced punitive measures against one of them, as well as three others, on February 1 over what it called “intolerable” violence.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in December that he would also propose similar measures.

Paris has backed that initiative and diplomats said they hoped that once its measures were in place it could speed up the European process.

A joint statement issued by the French, Polish, and German foreign ministers on Monday said settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank was unacceptable and “shall be sanctioned.”

EU efforts have stalled so far due to objections from Hungary and the Czech Republic, diplomats say.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, February 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Omar Havana)

But they say a compromise may be found later to let the measures proceed, possibly after more EU sanctions on Hamas.

“Colonization is illegal under international law and must stop,” the French foreign ministry said. “Its continuation is incompatible with the creation of a viable Palestinian state, which is the only solution so that Israelis and Palestinians can live, side by side, in peace and security.”

In December, France’s then-foreign minister Catherine Colonna also announced sanctions against some violent Israelis in the West Bank. In Israel earlier this month, current Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné said that “settler violence” in the West Bank must stop.

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