Finland’s foreign minister has warned Israel that European sanctions against the Jewish state are now on the cards as the EU imposes similar measures on Russia.

Speaking in Helsinki, Erkki Tuomioja, asked: “How come the Palestinian territories have been occupied for 47 years and there are no sanctions?”

Crimea was annexed by Russia earlier this year

Crimea was annexed by Russia earlier this year

In reference to both Russia’s annexation of Crimea (pictured) and Israel’s actions in the West Bank, he said: “If a country invades and occupies and annexes part of another country this is clearly illegal and being followed by sanctions.”

On Israel, he said there was “a link with the Ukraine Crimea crisis” and that countries would discuss the option of sanctions against Israel.

He added that the policy of offering Israel mainly “carrots” in an effort to bring about peace with the Palestinians had not worked, and that Brussels may now have to use “sticks” too.

At the height of the Gaza conflict, the European Union Foreign Affairs Council issued a statement reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself and calling on terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip to disarm.

Russia has been widely condemned for its intervention in Ukraine, with the annexation of Crimea the first such action in Europe since World War Two, but Israel was among a minority of nations who refused to criticise Russia for it.