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Israel says EU is preparing sanctions on settlements

February 11, 2015 at 10:48 am

Israel believes that the European Union is preparing to impose severe sanctions on settlements built on occupied Palestinian land. Officials who have visited European foreign ministries and the EU in Brussels recently claim that the sanctions would take effect after the Israeli general election next month.

According to the Israeli online site, Walla, the officials claim that the European actions will include an emphasis on “the illegality of settlements under the international law” without taking Israel’s considerations into account. There will be no distinction between settlements located within settlement blocs and those located beyond them. All of Israel’s settlements are regarded as illegal under international law.

“The approach being adopted by the EU is based on deepening and highlighting the absolute distinction between Israel within the Green [1949 Armistice] Line and Israel beyond the Green Line [sic],” the officials told the media. “They are talking about sanctions against companies that are operating beyond the border [in the occupied West Bank], support of Palestinian judicial actions related to settlements, and the re-launch of the proposal regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state through the UN Security Council.”

The starting point in Europe will be after the elections, they added, after an Israeli right-wing government is formed, when it would be easier for them to further push these steps.

“These moves are not led by junior staff, but rather all of the EU states who are involved in this process and allow for it to move forward; it has been reviewed by all senior officials in Brussels.”

It was clear, the officials noted, that the upcoming Israeli election has succeeded in postponing the sanctions, primarily because the EU does not want to appear to be interfering in the political process. “Some EU states also hope that negotiations with the Palestinians will resume post-election, but now that such a scenario appears unlikely, they are planning to escalate their measures against the settlements.”

Parallel to Europe’s collective actions, a number of states are considering taking independent steps, such as reopening discussions in the UN Security Council on the establishment of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Israeli analysts believe that if France, for example, presented such a proposal then the United States would not block it as it did last time. It is expected that, in this scenario, the US would refrain from using the veto, especially against the backdrop of the deep crisis in relations between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.