(Bloomberg) -- The European Union formally approved sanctions Friday on violent Israeli settlers, a procedural step that required weeks of technical work as the bloc tries to balance its support for Israel with the need to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The bloc agreed to impose travel bans and asset freezes on four settlers in the West Bank and two entities, according to an announcement in the EU’s Official Journal.

While EU member states had signed off on the move in March, the delay in finalizing the measure highlights the difficulty the EU has faced in reaching agreement on matters related to the Middle East conflict. The timing of this step wasn’t related to Iran’s recent drone and missile barrage in Israel, or Israel’s subsequent retaliation. 

The bloc is struggling with how to impose its influence in the region as it calls for both Israel and Iran to show restraint and avoid escalation. While the EU has reaffirmed support for Israel after Iran’s attack, it is also seeking to refocus attention on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza due to Israel’s strikes there in retaliation for Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.  

Separately, the EU is discussing imposing additional sanctions on Iran over its weekend strike on Israel, with foreign ministers aiming to broadly back the measures when they meet in Luxembourg on Monday. A legal proposal isn’t expected until after the meeting.

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The bloc’s member states are in broad agreement on expanding an existing regime imposing sanctions on Iran over its weapons aid to Russia to also include missiles, according to a senior EU official, although there is no concrete evidence that Tehran has transferred those yet to Moscow. 

In addition to hitting Iran’s drone-makers, the measures on Iran would target transfers of weapons to Iranian proxies in the Middle East, including Hezbollah, the official said, adding there is still a discussion about whether to list individual names related to Tehran’s ballistic missile production.  

The EU official also said Iran’s attack on Israel has been a major strategic mistake because Israel benefits politically from it and it has relieved the government of some pressure over its actions in Gaza.

--With assistance from Alberto Nardelli.

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