UK slaps travel ban on settlers responsible for violence against Palestinians

British FM David Cameron says violent settlers undermining security for both sides, urges Israel to take action, following same move by US; EU also mulling similar decision

Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 12, 2023, after attending a cabinet meeting. (Adrian Dennis/AFP)
Britain's Foreign Secretary David Cameron leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London on December 12, 2023, after attending a cabinet meeting. (Adrian Dennis/AFP)

British Foreign Minister David Cameron announced Thursday a ban on “extremist settlers” from Israel entering the United Kingdom, in order “to make sure our country cannot be a home for people who commit these intimidating acts.”

The decision follows a similar measure announced last week by the United States, which said it will impose travel bans on extremist Jewish settlers implicated in a rash of recent attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, as well as on Palestinians involved in attacks on Israelis.

In a post on X, Cameron said that “extremist settlers, by targeting and killing Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians. Israel must take stronger action to stop settler violence and hold the perpetrators accountable.” He did not elaborate on how such a determination will be made, and if a list of those barred will be publicized.

Fifty-six British parliamentarians demanded that the government make the move Wednesday.

“In contrast to the way in which Israeli settlers enjoy a climate of impunity, the Israeli authorities have arrested over 3,000 West Bank Palestinians since the appalling Hamas attack of 7 October. This is often in the most arbitrary manner and without charge,” the signatories wrote.

Earlier this week, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell also said he had presented a discussion paper to EU foreign ministers looking at “imposing sanctions against extremist settlers in West Bank.”

He acknowledged, however, that there was as yet no unanimity among the 27 EU governments on the issue, who would need to vote unanimously in order to enact the proposal.

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday also told the body’s lawmakers she was in favor of imposing sanctions on extremist Israeli settlers.

“The rise in violence by extremist settlers is inflicting immense suffering on the Palestinians. It undermines the prospects for a lasting peace and could further exacerbate regional instability,” she said.

Following the US measure, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said those carrying out such violence are extremists” and that Israel is a nation of laws which cannot tolerate such activity, “and we don’t need others to explain that to us.”

Violence in the West Bank has soared since October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst into Israel from the land, air and sea in a shock assault in which they massacred more than 1,200 people and seized some 240 hostages. Entire families were slaughtered in their homes and some 360 people were mowed down at an outdoor music festival.

In response to the deadliest massacre in the country’s history, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas from the Gaza Strip, where the terror group has ruled since 2007.

Since the start of the war, an uptick in violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank has been noted by human rights groups in Israel and abroad.

On November 28, anti-West Bank settlement organization Yesh Din said that since October 7, they have recorded 225 incidents of Israeli civilian violence in 93 Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

A demolished village council building in the abandoned Palestinian village of Khirbet Zanuta, funded in part by the EU, as well as other foreign governments. The demolition of the structure comes following threats by local extremists settlers against former residents of the village not to return, December 4, 2023. (Courtesy Southern Mount Hebron Activists group)

According to activist groups such as B’tselem and Peace Now, as well as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), this wave of harassment has led hundreds of Palestinians in vulnerable rural communities to abandon their villages.

Since October 7, there have also been a number of deadly terror attacks against Israelis in the West Bank and Israel.

Israeli troops have arrested some 2,000 wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, including more than 1,100 affiliated with Hamas.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, some 200 West Bank Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, and in a few cases settlers.

Based on military estimates, the vast majority of the 200 Palestinians killed since October 7 were shot dead during clashes amid arrest raids. Around 60% of them, according to data seen by The Times of Israel, were armed with either a firearm or an explosive device.

The IDF has said that it is aware of at least three cases of uninvolved Palestinians being killed by troops in recent weeks, and a handful of cases of settlers killing Palestinians, which are still under investigation.

Gianluca Pacchiani contributed to this report.

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