UK bans entry for those responsible for settler violence against Palestinians

LONDON (Reuters) -British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Thursday that those responsible for settler violence against Palestinians would be banned from entering Britain, following a similar plan by the European Union.

U.N. figures show daily settler attacks in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have more than doubled since the Palestinian militant group Hamas’s deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel from Gaza.

“Extremist settlers, by targeting and killing Palestinian civilians, are undermining security and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Cameron said on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Israel must take stronger action to stop settler violence and hold the perpetrators accountable. We are banning those responsible for settler violence from entering the UK to make sure our country cannot be a home for people who commit these intimidating acts.”

On Monday, foreign office minister Andrew Mitchell told parliament that Cameron had discussed the issue of travel bans with his U.S. counterpart last week.

Asked about the decision, Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said in a televised briefing: “We deplore all extremist violence. There is no excuse for vigilantism or hooliganism, and we will continue to insist that all extremist violence be dealt with with the full force of the law.”

While much international attention has focused on the cross-border assault and Israel’s subsequent war against Hamas in Gaza, European officials have also expressed increasing concern about rising violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Earlier this week European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he would propose sanctions against Jewish settlers responsible for violence against Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Borrell did not say what the sanctions would entail but EU officials have said they would involve bans on travel to the EU.

The settlements are one of the most contentious issues of the decades-long Israel-Palestinian conflict. They are built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East War but which the Palestinians seek for a future independent state. They are deemed illegal by most countries but have consistently expanded over the years.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Kate Holton, William Maclean)