The Knesset Interior and Environmental Protection Committee on Monday authorized new rules requiring licenses to cut down trees or to transport cut trees. The licenses will allow authorities to inspect the size of shipments and ensure that trees were not cut down illegally.
The new rules are part of a renewed effort by authorities to put a stop to the illegal Palestinian production of charcoal. Famous for its high quality charcoal, many Arab towns in Israel and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas subsist largely on production of briquets for barbecues and home heating. Unfortunately, their products are built on mass denuding of forests planted by organizations like the JNF over many years.
Most at risk nowadays are forests in the Pardes Chana and Binyamina areas, after depletion of many forests in the Umm el-Faham area.
MK David Amsalem (Likud), chairman of the Committee, called on Israelis not to buy charcoal from PA sources, or from unlicensed sources in Israel. “The health of Israelis is the last thing that Palestinians pay attention to. In the coming weeks I will call a meeting with the relevant officials to prevent Palestinian Authority-manufactured charcoal from entering Israel altogether,” said Amsalem. “I promised voters that I would do everything possible to stop this shameful behavior and, G-d willing, we will succeed.”