Creating new perspectives since 2009

Spain will unilaterally sanction violent Israel settlers if EU refuses

February 20, 2024 at 10:52 am

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares attends the meeting of EU Foreign Ministers at the EU Council headquarter in Brussels, Belgium on 19 February, 2024 [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

Spain will unilaterally apply sanctions on violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank if the EU fails to agree to do so, Anadolu news agency reported Madrid’s foreign minister saying yesterday.

“These sanctions have been debated at several previous meetings of EU foreign affairs,” Jose Manuel Albares told the press in Brussels. “I will continue pushing so that they are applied once and for all… but in the case that there is no agreement, Spain will absolutely advance individually in applying these sanctions.”

Albares was speaking ahead of yesterday’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting.

Besides sanctions, he promised to push the bloc to reevaluate the EU-Israel Association Agreement and whether Israel is violating international and human rights law in Gaza.

This idea was proposed by the Spanish and Irish prime ministers in a letter sent to the European Commission last week after Israel announced its offensive in Rafah.

“I will concretely ask that this evaluation is ready for the next Foreign Affairs Council, where we will be able to extract conclusions,” he told journalists. “We hope that we’ll be able to resolve this with dialogue but there certainly are a series of mechanisms that are available.”

He added that this proposal, as well as Spain’s other ideas on the region, aim to stop the growing Palestinian death toll.

“It would be a total catastrophe if the military operations are enlarged to Rafah,” he added. “The situation is already too bad, catastrophic.”

Albares added that Spain will continue calling for a permanent ceasefire that would allow humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, the release of the hostages and pave the way for a two-state solution.

He explained that Spain is still lobbying the international community on the importance of the recognition of a Palestinian state, and hopes it can be done in negotiations with Israel, Palestine and the international community at a peace forum.

“But if nothing advances, Spain is a sovereign country that can take its own decisions,” he added, referring to the Spanish prime minister’s promise to recognise a Palestinian state.

Earlier yesterday, Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said he hoped the European Union countries would unanimously agree to impose sanctions on violent settlers.

Last week, the French authorities prevented 28 Israeli settlers from entering the country, accusing them of attacking Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

United Nations figures show that daily settler attacks have doubled since 7 October.

READ: Spain suspends arms exports to Israel; reiterates need for Palestine statehood