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Israel extends ban on 2 Palestinian dairy companies

Oct. 9, 2016 7:09 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 18, 2016 3:45 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) -- Israel decided on Sunday to extend its ban on dairy products produced by two Palestinian companies from entering Israel until further notice for allegedly not adhering to Israeli specifications.

The Israeli civil administration sent letters to the Hamoda and Pinar food production companies to extend a ban which ended on Oct. 6.

In mid-March, Israeli authorities ruled to deny entry into Israel and occupied East Jerusalem to goods from five Palestinian food production companies, including Hamoda, in a move which was branded by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah as an “oppressive political” decision breaching all commercial agreements and protocols regulating Palestinian and Israeli economic relations.

It remained unclear on Sunday evening when the ban on Pinar was instated.

Israeli authorities justified the ban on Palestinian food products at the time over alleged concerns regarding quality.

However, Hamdallah called the decision a “racist” attempt to “wipe out our national economy and suppress its development.”

In response to the Israeli ban, the Palestinian Authority halted imports from five major Israeli food companies in March.

In March, Hamoda head of marketing Fadi Abu Hilweh said that about 50 percent of the five banned Palestinian companies’ production went to Palestinian consumers in occupied East Jerusalem and Palestinian communities in Israel.

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

According to the Paris Protocols, bilateral trade agreements between Israel and other parties are considered valid in the occupied West Bank, however 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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