Ireland to work with like-minded EU states over sanctions on ‘aggressive settlers’ in West Bank

Top priority remains getting the violence to stop, says Micheál Martin

Ireland is to work with like-minded European Union member states over the weekend on potential sanctions of “aggressive settlers” on the Israeli-occupied West Bank in advance of a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has said. The main priority, he said, would be how they could put pressure to get the violence to stop.

Speaking at Cop28 in Dubai, the Tánaiste said he was horrified at the continuing loss of life in Gaza. “The loss of children is shocking. It’s unacceptable.”

He confirmed that the Gaza issue was discussed with the UAE foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who he met on Thursday.

Ireland was calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which was critical at this point.


“Death and misery that is flowing from this. It is of an extraordinary scale,” he added.

Mr Martin noted military analysts had indicated levels of bombings were “almost unprecedented”, with shocking consequences for ordinary citizens.

The bloc’s diplomatic service said in a briefing paper for foreign ministers earlier this week that the EU should consider such settler sanctions alongside tougher sanctions on Hamas.

The “orientation note” sets out options for ministers to consider at a meeting in Brussels on Monday as they contemplate further responses to the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and preparations for the time after the war.

Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that killed some 1,200 people in a cross-border assault on Israel from Gaza on October 7th, is already listed by the EU as a terrorist organisation, meaning any funds or assets that it has in the EU should be frozen.

But the paper suggests the EU could “reinforce sanctions against Hamas and other terrorist groups” by further targeting finances and disinformation. It suggests the EU could set up a special sanctions programme dedicated to Hamas.

Senior EU officials, including foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, have also expressed alarm over rising violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the occupied territory of the West Bank.

The discussion paper, prepared by the European External Action Service and other EU officials, suggests an EU response could include bans on travel to the EU for those responsible and other sanctions for violation of human rights. – Additional reporting: Reuters

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Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times