France said on Wednesday that the European Union should consider sanctions on Israeli settlers who have targeted Palestinians in the West Bank as an option and that talks at the EU to impose sanctions on Hamas commanders were progressing.
UN figures show that daily settler attacks have more than doubled since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and the ensuing assault on the Palestinian enclave of Gaza. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed in the violence this year.
“We believe that the international community has a role to play to end these acts of violence which are extremely destabilizing 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.
Work is also ongoing with European and other allies on cutting financing for Hamas, including through the No Money for Terror platform, and to tackle its propaganda on social media.
No Money for Terror is an ad hoc coalition set up in 2018 aimed at combatting terrorism financing.
France on Nov. 13 imposed sanctions at a national level on Hamas’ military commander Mohammed Deif and his deputy Marwan Issa.
Two diplomats said the aim was to add them to the EU’s list of sanctioned terrorists by mid-December. Other individuals were also being looked at, but the legal dossiers would take more time to prepare, they said.