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Report: EU considers barring violent settlers

Nov. 26, 2012 2:28 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 27, 2012 3:05 P.M.)
TEL AVIV, Israel (Ma'an) -- The European Union is considering blocking violent Israeli settlers from entering member states, Israeli daily Haaretz reported Monday.

The EU's committee of Middle East experts is recommending a blacklist of "known violent settlers", a Western diplomat told Haaretz, although no official decision has been made.

The issue is expected to be discussed at an upcoming meeting of European foreign ministers, the daily reported.

In January, a report by EU consuls in East Jerusalem and Ramallah recommended that EU headquarters in Brussels compile a blacklist of violent settlers, although it was only addressed in October when a classified document of recommendations was submitted to a diplomatic-security committee responsible for preparing the agenda of EU foreign ministers' meetings.

"If settler violence is not dealt with preventively, it will increasingly obstruct efforts by both parties for solving the conflict," the document obtained by Haaretz said.

It further recommended that EU member states "could explore the possibilities of denying access of known violent settlers to the EU."

A source told Haaretz that several of the EU committee members toured the West Bank and Israel last week, primarily visiting Palestinian Authority areas in a visit described by Israel's foreign ministry as "unbalanced."

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor has not seen the document, but called the proposal to ban violent settlers as "inflammatory," given that Israel has not itself defined the settlers as violent.

"How will a person be defined as a 'violent settler' if he hasn't been convicted? And if he's been convicted, then Israel has brought him to justice," Palmor was quoted as saying by Haaretz.

Settlers in the West Bank routinely assault local Palestinians, destroying their property and agricultural land.

Despite the frequency of such incidents, Israel's legal system rarely prosecutes against settler violence.
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