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EU’s von der Leyen says extremist violence in West Bank settlements must stop

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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that rising violence by extremists in the Israeli-occupied West Bank had to stop.

Violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank has increased since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

“We must prevent violence from spreading, and therefore a peaceful co-existence is only possible with the two-state solution,” Von der Leyen told a news conference in Canada alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European Council President Charles Michel.

“The Palestinian people and the Arab neighbours need the reassurance that there will be no forced displacement but a viable perspective, with an independent Palestinian state – Gaza and West Bank reunited – and governed by a reformed Palestinian authority. And to this end, unacceptable violence by extremists in the West Bank has to stop,” she added.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Joe Biden also said that the United States is prepared to issue visa bans against “extremists” attacking civilians in the West Bank.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron also urged Israel to crack down on what he called “completely unacceptable” violence by West Bank settlers.

“People are actually targeting and on occasion killing Palestinian civilians, it’s completely unacceptable and those people responsible for that, it’s not good enough just to arrest them, they need to be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned. These are crimes,” he told the BBC.

Israel occupied the West Bank, which Palestinians want as the core of an independent state, in a 1967 Middle East war. It has since built Jewish settlements there that most countries deem illegal. Israel disputes this and cites historical and biblical ties to the land.

The West Bank is home to 3 million Palestinians who live among more than half a million Jewish settlers. Continued settlement expansion is among the most contentious issues between Israel, the Palestinians and international community.

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