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PA bans imports from 5 major Israeli food companies

March 22, 2016 5:42 P.M. (Updated: April 6, 2016 1:30 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority decided Tuesday to halt imports from five major Israeli food production companies into the occupied Palestinian territory.

In a statement released after the weekly cabinet meeting, the Palestinian government said the decision came in response to an Israeli ban on products from five Palestinian companies earlier this month.

According to the statement, products from the Tnuva, Strauss, Tara, Soglowek and Tapuzina companies will be banned from entering the Palestinian territory.

It added that the relevant authorities have been instructed "to put the decision into effect after giving Palestinian merchants enough time to sell the products stocked in their stores."

On Sunday, Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah slammed the recent Israeli decision to ban Palestinian food products from entering Jerusalem as "racist," chalking it as one of many "attempts to isolate Jerusalem from its surroundings and erase its identity."

Hamdallah described the Israeli decision as an "oppressive, political" decision breaching all commercial agreements and protocols regulating Palestinian and Israeli economic relations, and an effort to "wipe out our national economy and suppress its development."

Fadi Abu Hilweh, the director of marketing for Hamoda company -- one of the companies affected by the Israeli decision -- told Ma'an at a protest against the ban on March 13 that about 50 percent of the five Palestinian companies' production goes to Palestinian consumers in occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian communities in Israel.

If the ban continues, he said, the companies could lose some 1.2 billion shekels ($310 million) a year.

According to the Paris Protocols -- an agreement signed in 1994 between the PLO and Israel -- bilateral trade agreements between Israel and other parties are considered valid in the occupied West Bank, although Israel prevents the import of many Palestinian products to the Israeli market.

A poll by the the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research conducted in June 2015 reported that the overwhelming majority of those interviewed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- 86 percent -- said they supported the campaign to boycott Israeli products.
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