PA Produce Banned From Entering Israel Over Calf Boycott

YERUSHALAYIM -
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett during a Knesset plenary session. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Despite a new agreement, the Palestinian Authority has continued to refuse to end its boycott of live sheep and calves from Israel – so in response, Israel will stop importing produce grown in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas.

The ban was announced by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who said that
“despite ongoing and repeated efforts by the defense establishment to resolve the issue, which has caused much damage to Israeli cattle growers and caused much financial loss to hundreds of producers, the Palestinian Authority has refused to end its policies that greatly reduces, if not bans altogether, cattle imports from Israel. As of 6:00 a.m., Sunday, February 2, agricultural produce from the Palestinian Authority will no longer be accepted at border crossings.”

The PA began banning the import of live sheep and calves from Israel over four months ago, similar to a ban on the import of Israel produced mutton, which was implemented last year. Israel retaliated against that ban by preventing the import of PA agricultural products, and the PA lifted its ban. The bans on Israeli imports were part of efforts to “disengage” the PA economy from that of Israel.

The ban had hurt the incomes of Israeli farmers, but it turned out that the real victim of the ban was the Palestinian consumer, who saw the price of fresh lamb and veal skyrocket in recent weeks, as Israeli-grown animals constitute a large part of the meat supply in the PA – as much as 90% of the market. The PA market for live sheep and calves is worth about NIS 700 million annually, with some 600 moshav families and 1,800 workers affected.

A deal was worked out between Israeli and PA negotiators to allow more PA produce into Israel in exchange for an end to the boycott – and while Israel has indeed increased import allocations of PA-grown fruits and vegetables, Israeli cows and sheep are still largely banned from the PA.