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  • Palestinian farmer puts freshly picked eggplants in boxes at his farm in the village of Al-Jiftlik near Jericho in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

    Palestinian farmer puts freshly picked eggplants in boxes at his farm in the village of Al-Jiftlik near Jericho in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 February 2020

Israel’s last move comes to further intensify a trade dispute between the Jewish state and the PA, which began in October.

Israel has banned the Palestinians from exporting their products abroad via Jordan, official Palestinian Authority (PA) news agency Wafa reported Saturday.

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“The director of Israeli crossings informed all exporters and all relevant parties that all Palestinian agriculture products, including fruits, vegetables, dates, and olive oil, would be banned from export to world markets through the Jordanian crossing starting Sunday," Palestinian Agriculture Minister Riad Attari said Saturday.

While the ban was set to start Sunday, according to newspaper Haaretz, the Palestinian Ministry of Economy said in a statement released by Wafa that Israeli authorities have already started to send back - at a crossing with Jordan - several trucks filled with Palestinian products.

The only crossing between the occupied West Bank and Jordan is controlled by Israel. Jordan has not yet made any comments. 

The sanctions are leveled and will be increased as long as the crisis goes on, according to the Israeli government whose Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered last weekend the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to stop agricultural imports from the PA.

Israel’s last move comes to further intensify a trade dispute between the Jewish state and the PA, which began in October.

In a bid to start disengaging financially from Israel, the PA had decided in September to try to import calves independently. 

The Jewish nation however perceived the Palestinian move as a breach of the agricultural trade agreement signed in 1994 as part of the Oslo Accords, and stroke the PA with sanctions, revoking businesspeople's passage and trade licenses, halting the passage of donations into the Strip and not letting Palestinians bring the cattle they imported into Gaza. 

In December, the two sides agreed to end the boycott mainly because of the rise in cattle prices in the West Bank. The agreement stated that the PA could purchase cattle from Israel, but in a limited capacity. 

Yet, Israeli cattle producers, who were against the deal, demanded that Israel stop importing vegetables from the occupied West Bank and from Gaza in order to pressure the Palestinians into accepting their demands.

With all borders controlled by Israel, the Palestinian economy is highly vulnerable to Israeli sanctions. According to Wafa, Palestinian agricultural exports amounted to US$130 million in 2018, with two-thirds of these exports going to Israel.

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