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World Council of Churches wants EU sanctions if Israel annexes West Bank land

The World Council of Churches is asking European diplomats to punish Israel with sanctions if it annexes West Bank lands. The request has triggered a heated debate in Christian circles.

The call to punish Israel came last month in a letter to EU foreign ministers from the Geneva headquarters of the council, an umbrella body established in 1948 that now has 350 member churches with about 500,000 followers among them. The Catholic Church is not a member.

Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches, speaks at an event in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 15, 2018. (Albin Hillert/WCC via JTA)

If Israel annexes land, the letter says, “the EU must surely suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement,” a reference to a 1995 contract that promotes trade between the bloc and the Jewish state. In addition, the EU should apply sanctions on Israel “at least commensurate with those adopted by the EU in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.”

The EU has blacklisted hundreds of Russian individuals and firms over alleged involvement in the Crimea annexation from 2014, subjecting them to entry bans and freezing of EU properties.

“The unilateral annexation of yet more of the territory that remains to Palestinians cannot lead to justice or to peace, but only to greater injustice,” the church body wrote.

— JTA

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