Wine and Honey Exported from Yehuda and Shomron to UAE

REHELIM/DUBAI (REUTERS/Hamodia) -
An employee sorts wine bottles as he works at Tura Winery in Rehelim, in the Shomron. (REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun)

Wine produced in Yehuda and Shomron and labelled “from the land of Israel” will soon be available for sale in the United Arab Emirates, local business leaders said.

After forging official relations with the UAE last year under a U.S.-brokered deal, bottles from Tura Winery in the town of Rehelim are now in stock in the UAE, an alcohol retailer there said, although they did not appear to be on shelves yet.

The winery’s owner, Vered Ben-Sa’adon, told Reuters the exports showed that new Israel-UAE ties also extended to Yehuda and Shomron.

“It’s very exciting for (people in the UAE) to feel the peace process, to be a part of it. When you sit in a hotel in Abu Dhabi, and drink a glass of Tura (wine), it’s to be a part of history,” said Ben-Sa’adon, 44.

Tura, which also produces and has sent olive oil to the UAE, places labels on its wine bottles that include the line: “WINE FROM THE LAND OF ISRAEL.”

The UAE declined comment when asked for the government’s position on Israel’s presence in Yehuda and Shomron, which the Palestinians claim for their future state, but it has said that its relations with Israel would advance peace in the region.

The UAE has not said if it would place special labels on the goods saying they were produced in Yehuda and Shomron.

Such labels are required by the European Union.

But under guidelines issued by outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration last year, the United States, Israel’s closest ally, said its imports from the region should be marked “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel.”

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has not said if he would change the Trump administration’s labelling guidelines.

Palestinians have condemned the export deal, saying settlements are illegal under international law, a view shared by many countries but disputed by Israel.

A representative of African + Eastern, an alcohol retailer in the UAE, said it had Tura wines in stock, although they were not yet available on store shelves. The retailer also sells wine imported from the Israeli Golan Heights.

An FAM representative said it had import deals for wine and olive oil with Tura and for honey with Paradise Honey, a company in Hermesh, also in Yehuda and Shomron.

FAM’s Israel imports have been approved by the UAE government, the representative added, without saying if origin labels would be required.

Matan Paradise, whose family runs Paradise Honey, said they had sent a “small, first shipment to Dubai. I hope in the next month we will send a lot more.”