Austria Considers Entry Ban for Violent Israeli Settlers

PeopleOther ♦ Published: December 27, 2023; 18:49 ♦ (Vindobona)

In a noteworthy development, Austria is considering a travel ban on violent Israeli settlers, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg has announced. This follows moves by the US as well as Germany and France, which are discussing similar measures.

"The violent behavior of radical protesters is absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible," says the Austrian Foreign Ministry. / Picture: © BMEIA Bundesministerium für Europa, Integration und Äußeres / Gruber / Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Schallenberg emphasized that Austria prefers an EU-wide regulation, as the violent behavior of these settlers is "absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible", as reported by "Die Kleine Zeitung". The EU is currently discussing whether people involved in acts of violence against Palestinians should be banned from entering the Schengen area. The decision is in the context of the increasing violence in the West Bank and is intended to send a signal of solidarity with the victims and disapproval of such acts.

Several countries have already gone it alone, with the UK leading the way. According to "DerStandard", the Austrian Foreign Ministry is "absolutely open to an EU-wide solution". However, they are currently still waiting for concrete proposals. As soon as there is a draft text that can be discussed, it will be examined and the ministry is open to the idea.

A concrete course of action has not yet been determined, but national solutions could be considered if no EU-wide regulation is reached. The measure is controversial in Israel, with critics of the occupation policy calling for tougher steps and the Israeli government rejecting the proposals.

No Schengen entry

Human rights organizations in Israel report a significant increase in violent attacks on Palestinian villages in the West Bank in 2023.

Israeli citizens can enter the EU without applying for a visa. However, a specific entry ban to the entire Schengen area could be envisaged, which would be targeted at the person in question. In this case, even a second passport from an EU member state, which many Israelis have, would not provide any relief. In concrete terms, an Austrian citizen - in this case, an Israeli with an Austrian second passport - could be prevented from entering the country at Schwechat Airport if there is an EU-wide regulation.

However, it is questionable how many people would be affected by such an entry ban. In the USA, the number of cases is estimated at "no more than a few dozen". According to high-ranking US representatives, however, the purpose of such a visa ban is in any case the hoped-for deterrent effect soon.

The EU authorities would probably base their lists of offenders on whether someone had been convicted of violent assaults in Israel. However, this is only the case in a minority of the cases documented by human rights organizations.