EU and US impose sanctions on extremist settlers over violence in West Bank

Individuals and entities hit by these sanctions are subject to asset freezes.

EU and US impose sanctions on extremist settlers over violence in West Bank

The Council of the European Union on Friday announced sanctions on four “extremist” settlers and two groups over serious human rights abuses against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Later on Friday, the U.S. announced it has also imposed sanctions on two entities it says were involved in establishing fundraising campaigns on behalf of two violent extremists already under sanctions in connection with violence in the West Bank.

“Mount Hebron Fund and Shlom Asiraich generated tens of thousands of dollars for extremists responsible for destroying property, assaulting civilians, and violence against Palestinians,” said the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Wally Adeyemo.

“Such acts by these organizations undermine the peace, security, and stability of the West Bank. We will continue to use our tools to hold those responsible accountable, ” he added.

Following its announcement of sanctions, the Council of the EU said: “The listed individuals and entities are responsible for serious human rights abuses against Palestinians, including torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and for the violation of right to property and to private and family life of Palestinians in the West Bank.”

The listed entities are Lehava, a far-right Jewish supremacist group; and Hilltop Youth, a “radical youth group consisting of members known for violent acts against Palestinians and their villages in the West Bank,” according to the statement.

The four individuals hit by the sanctions are Meir Ettinger and Elisha Yered — both leading figures of Hilltop Youth — as well as Neria Ben Pazi and Yinon Levi.

It is the first time the European Union has imposed sanctions on radical Israeli settlers in the West Bank over acts of violence against Palestinians, the German press agency DPA wrote, citing diplomats.

In addition to a travel ban to the EU, the individuals listed under the sanctions regime are subject to having their assets frozen, along with being prohibited from provision of funds or economic resources — “directly or indirectly, to them or for their benefit.”

On Wednesday, the EU had said it was “gravely concerned about the worsening situation in the occupied West Bank where settler violence, intimidation, and destruction of homes and property have continued to steeply rise over the past few days.”

“We condemn all attacks against civilians, including the reported killings of four Palestinians and call on Israel to step up efforts to prevent recurrent settler violence against Palestinians and ensure the perpetrators of crimes are held accountable,” said Peter Stano, spokesperson for EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, in a statement.

In December, EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said he would propose imposing sanctions on “extremist” Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

“We will work on imposing sanctions against extremist settlers in the West Bank. I will make a proposal to member states in this regard,” Borrell said at a press conference after a meeting of EU foreign ministers.

Borrell added he was “alarmed” by the Israeli government’s approval of the construction of another 1,700 housing units in east Jerusalem to expand the settlements. “The EU considers the plan illegal under international law,” he said.

Updated to add that the US also imposed sanctions on entities connected with violence in the West Bank.