For years, attempts by Palestinian Authority groups to boycott Israeli food products have failed – because, Israeli food industry officials say, the quality of local products is much higher than what is available in the PA. But the recent salmonella contamination scandal has added new fuel to efforts by groups to persuade PA Arabs to boycott Israeli products.
Prepared salads such as hummus and tehina – the very products most affected by the food contamination scandal – are among the top Israeli products bought by PA Arabs.
According to Israeli sources, the PA itself is not involved in calls to boycott Israeli products due to the salmonella scandal. However, the PA has often called for boycotts of Israeli products for political reasons, and PA politicians are picking up that call now as well. Among them is Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the PA parliament, who called the salmonella incidents “another reason to boycott all Israeli products, besides the political reasons.” Tayseer Khaled, another PA parliament member, echoed the call. Also demanding a ban of Israeli products is the Palestinian Consumer Protection Authority, based in Ramallah.
Ibrahim al-Qadi, a top official in the PA Economy Ministry, said that the contamination proves that Israeli products are of low quality. “We can better supervise local production to ensure that it is safe and meets the relevant guidelines,” he added. However, he added, there were few salmonella-tainted Israeli products on PA store shelves; one of the culprits in the scandal was the Shamir salad firm, which is based in Barkan in central Shomron – and the PA has long had a law in place banning Israeli products made by Jews in Yehudah and Shomron.
Oddly, those calling for a boycott said that PA Arabs should continue to buy products from Nesich, the raw-tehina producer whose product was found to be the main culprit in the tainting scandal. That’s because the company is partially Arab-owned, the Consumer’s Union said. Arab-made products, the group said, “naturally follow the regulations of the PA.”