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UK Sanctions Israeli West Bank Settlers, Citing Human Rights Abuses

FILE - A Palestinian man checks a car burned in a raid by Israeli settlers near Salfit in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Dec. 3, 2023.
FILE - A Palestinian man checks a car burned in a raid by Israeli settlers near Salfit in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Dec. 3, 2023.

Britain imposed sanctions Monday against four Israeli nationals, accused of violently attacking Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron called the four individuals “extremist Israeli settlers” and imposed strict financial and travel restrictions on them because of what was described as their "egregious abuses of human rights."

"Extremist Israeli settlers are threatening Palestinians, often at gunpoint, and forcing them off land that is rightfully theirs," he said.

The British Foreign Office said over the past year there have been unprecedented levels of violence by residents who have illegally settled in West Bank outposts.

"This behavior is illegal and unacceptable. Israel must also take stronger action and put a stop to settler violence. Too often, we see commitments made and undertakings given, but not followed through," Cameron said.

"Extremist settlers, by targeting and attacking Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians," Cameron added.

The United States also imposed sanctions earlier this month on four Israeli men it accused of being involved in settler violence in the West Bank.

The European Union is also mulling over imposing sanctions on Israeli settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank but so far, there has not been unanimity among the member states on such measures.

Four diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity about internal EU deliberations said that Hungary and the Czech Republic, two strong allies of Israel, made clear in an EU committee meeting Thursday that they were not ready to approve a proposal on sanctions.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Wednesday now was "definitely not the time" to sanction Israeli settlers, state news agency MTI reported. Budapest says the EU's focus should be on helping Israel to defeat Hamas and free hostages taken by the militants during the Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky said his country was not "substantively" blocking sanctions on settlers inciting violence. Lipavsky, however, expressed reluctance to adopting such measures alongside sanctions against Hamas, which the EU has listed as a terrorist organization over the October attacks.

"An act of terrorism is not on the same level as acts by settlers,” he said. "These things cannot be connected."

France, which has been pushing for settler sanctions, is expected to introduce national travel bans on two or three individuals imminently. Reports say France is hoping that once its measures are in place, European partners will be more willing to press ahead.

"Once we have our measures, we shall see how the others react," said a French diplomatic source.

The European Union has not spelled out what the sanctions would entail but officials have said they would include bans on travel to the EU.

Some information in this report came from Reuters, Agence France-Presse, and The Associated Press.

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