Israel-Gaza War Borrell draws up a list of Israeli settlers to be sanctioned and studies how to cut off funding for the Hamas leadership

The EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, has ordered his technical services to begin drawing up a list of Israeli settlers guilty of violent activities "and attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank" in order to apply sanctions to them as soon as possible

Israel-Gaza War Borrell draws up a list of Israeli settlers to be sanctioned and studies how to cut off funding for the Hamas leadership

The EU High Representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, has ordered his technical services to begin drawing up a list of Israeli settlers guilty of violent activities "and attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank" in order to apply sanctions to them as soon as possible. There is no formal proposal at the moment, and there is no unanimity among the member states, but the Spaniard hopes to be able to "put it on the table." What there is a green light for is to implement punishments against the Hamas leadership, to try to financially suffocate the terrorist organization.

That is the balance of the meeting of the 27 foreign ministers that was held this Monday in Brussels, the last of the year if there are no surprises. Borrell raises the tone with each passing day. His analysis is harsh, much more so than most Western leaders. Today he has denounced, once again, the situation of civilians in Gaza, which in his opinion "is catastrophic and I would say apocalyptic." The Israeli response, he laments, "is leaving an incredible number of civilian deaths. I believe that human suffering constitutes an unprecedented challenge for the international community," since 85% of the population, 1.9 million people, are internally displaced. and at the level of infrastructure "it is equal to or greater destruction than German cities in the Second World War."

On the agenda this Monday were various types of sanctions. On the one hand, a proposal from France, Germany and Italy to toughen pressure on Hamas and its leadership. The organization has been on the EU terrorist list since 2003, and is therefore subject to sanctions. But most governments believe that they can be tightened, revised, to avoid bypasses. "Hamas has been considered a terrorist organization for a long time and on October 7 they did a lot of work for it to be considered as such. There has been no opposition to the proposal from Italy, France and Germany and it will be presented to the Council for approval," he said. summarized Spanish at the end of the session.

But in addition, there are countries that have "pointed out the importance of acting against violence in the West Bank" by the settlers, since "the Israeli authorities themselves have admitted that they use terror against civilians," Borrell said. "We are alarmed by the violence in the West Bank by violent settlers. And we are alarmed by the fact that the Israeli Government has approved the construction of another 1,700 homes in Jerusalem. This to expand settlements, which are illegal under international law. We condemn this decision and we will prepare a statement about it," he added.

The high representative does not have the necessary consensus right now, since European sanctions work unanimously, like important foreign policy issues. "I will make a proposal to sanction extremist settlers in the West Bank following in the footsteps of the US and using the Human Rights framework and I will present it to the Member States. My role is to make proposals to the Council, but foreign policy belongs to the States and I need unanimity of all, which sometimes makes my role difficult.

The head of community diplomacy, with his hands tied, believes that "the time has come to move from words to actions and to take the measures we can take against the acts of violence against the Palestinian populations in the West Bank. There are already too many acts of violence and too many deaths, especially after 7-O. We discussed it today, I cannot say that there was unanimity."

The technical services have already begun to compile names for these lists, and then the capitals "will decide whether it seems appropriate or not" to approve the sanctions, which in most cases consist of the freezing of assets and the prohibition of entering the EU, when they are on an individual basis. But they become a ban on trading with the EU when they are extended to companies or organizations responsible for violating human rights.

Countries like Belgium, Ireland and even France have opened the door to national sanctions if there is no consensus among the 27, something that seems complicated because Hungary, which generally puts a spanner in the works of foreign policy, is especially active on this issue. and as a rule it blocks or softens most statements or condemnations that have to do with Israel.

Asked about the issue, the Spanish minister, José Manuel Albares, said that many partners have "spoken about the enemies of peace", those who "with their actions complicate the two-state solution. Hamas is a terrorist organization and has proposed to advance a sanctions regime, and also the same path for violent settlers. But when it came to saying whether he was in favor of joining those European governments that will act in any case, he has put himself more in profile. "I don't like to make political fiction. We are going to see the document and the path of sanctions but I have seen favorable support," he has limited himself to saying.

Spain was one of the four countries, along with Ireland, Belgium and Malta, signed a letter addressed to the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, asking that "given the seriousness of the situation in Gaza and the possibility of the conflict escalating in the West Bank and throughout the region", at next week's European Council there will be "a serious debate on what is happening in the Middle East with the aim of the European Union agreeing on a clear and common position on the conflict".

At the last leaders' summit, the issue was discussed, and after many hours of negotiation, a lukewarm request was made for some pauses, in the plural, to Israel's bombings. Just hours later, European countries voted very divided at the United Nations. The four countries mentioned, the most critical of Israel due to the number of civilian victims and the thousands of dead children, want a call "urgently to the parties to declare a lasting humanitarian ceasefire" from the summit on Thursday and Friday. that could lead to the end of hostilities,"

But it won't happen. Diplomatic sources explain that the term "ceasefire" remains "very problematic for several delegations" and that there is little room to move forward there. And they say that although the position of Spain, Belgium, Malta or Ireland must be listened to, it is very far from assuming a minimum consensus among the 27 to allow us to go beyond where we have gone so far. Despite all the damage, collateral or not.