| 3 March 2024, Sunday |

France opens door to EU talks on Israeli settler sanctions

France said on Wednesday that talks to impose sanctions on Hamas commanders within the EU were moving forward and that the EU should take into consideration imposing punishment on Israeli settlers who have targeted Palestinians in the West Bank.

Since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on October 7 and its subsequent assault on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, U.N. records indicate that the number of daily settler attacks has more than doubled. This year’s violence has claimed the lives of almost 200 Palestinians.

“We believe that the international community has a role to play to end these acts of violence which are extremely destabilising for the region, but also harm the prospects for a two state-solution,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre told a weekly news briefing.

She said no options were excluded, including European Union sanctions on violent individuals.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war and it has been under military occupation since, while Israeli settlements have consistently expanded. Palestinians envisage the West Bank as part of a future independent state also including Gaza and East Jerusalem.

A French diplomatic source said Paris favoured EU sanctions, but that a debate in the bloc had yet to begin on the issue.

The United States has said it is prepared to issue visa bans against “extremists” attacking civilians in the West Bank.

Legendre also said talks were progressing in Brussels to impose sanctions – asset freezes and travel bans – on Hamas commanders.

  • Reuters