Budapest, Feb. 7 (EFE) – Hungary is against the European Union sanctioning Israeli settlers as it believes the measure would create more tension in the region and prolong Israel’s operations, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said Wednesday.
“This is definitely not the time for the EU to sanction Israeli settlers, as some want, as this would only create tensions and prolong anti-terrorist operations,” Szijjártó was quoted as saying in a foreign ministry statement.
The Hungarian government of ultra-nationalist Viktor Orbán has close ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and unconditionally supports Israel’s policies.
According to the Foreign Ministry, there is currently a “strong anti-Israeli stance” in Europe and the number of anti-semitic crimes and protests is rising.
The head of Hungarian diplomacy added that this phenomenon is more pronounced in Western Europe.
“Western European governments are now pushing for certain Israeli citizens, the so-called settlers, to be included in the (EU) sanctions lists. We believe that this is not the time,” the minister added.
Several EU countries have proposed imposing sanctions on Israeli settlers responsible for violence in the West Bank, including Spain, Belgium, France and even Germany, according to international press reports.
Szijjártó, says the EU should focus on “successful anti-terrorist operations” and that life in the region should return to normal as soon as possible.
The minister stressed that “the opinion of others” (countries) will not influence Hungary’s position.
The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on four Israeli men it accused of involvement in settler violence in the West Bank, and established a system to impose financial penalties and visa restrictions on individuals who attack or intimidate Palestinians or seize their property.
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law and considered by most of the international community to be an obstacle to peace, as these are territories captured by Israel in 1967 and sought by the Palestinians for a future state.
More than 700,000 Israelis now live in settlements and Netanyahu’s government, the most right-wing in Israel’s history, has sought to expand the number of homes in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, drawing international condemnation. EFE