Middle East Monitor / February 6, 2020
The Palestinian Authority is banning some Israeli goods from markets in the occupied territories in response to Israel having stopped Palestinian agricultural produce from being sold, the Ministry of the Economy has announced.
The PA’s ban on Israeli vegetables, fruits, juices, mineral water and carbonated drinks came into effect today, following the order issued on Friday by Israel’s Defence Minister Naftali Bennett halting agricultural imports from the occupied West Bank.
Bennett’s decision was made under pressure from Israeli cattle farmers, who have faced losses in recent months due to a PA boycott of Israeli cattle and sheep products in an attempt to reduce Palestinian dependence on the Israeli market and economy. The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported that Palestinians import three times more than they export to the occupation state.
According to the PA Ministry of the Economy, Palestinian exports of fresh fruits and vegetables to Israel are valued at $55 million annually, but the Palestinians pay around $300 million for vegetables imported from Israel, in addition to $100 million for bottled water and soft drinks.
A spokesperson for the ministry, Azmi Abdelrahman explained that the Palestinian agricultural sector can provide over 85 per cent of the market demand at this point. “Once the ban comes into effect, the losses will mostly be on the Israeli side, because Palestinian imports are greater in value.”
Abdelrahman added that the government is looking into ways to assist local farmers who have already signed contracts with Israeli factories, so as to reduce their losses.
The ban comes amid rising tension with Israel over US President Donald Trump’s so-called “peace plan,” which has been rejected by all Palestinian parties as well as the UN for not being based on UN resolutions.