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Dairy farmers say Israeli ban on goods 'retaliatory'

July 7, 2010 4:44 P.M. (Updated: July 9, 2010 4:15 P.M.)
Bethlehem – Ma'an – The Palestinian Dairy Council accused Israel of imposing a political ban on meat and dairy products and preventing West Bank produce from being sold in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Council head Mohammad As-Sous said factories received word at the end of June that their produce no longer fit the specifications for entry into Israel, including occupied East Jerusalem.

Speaking with Ma'an Radio, As-Sous said the move was aimed at further separating Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank. He warned that silence would only lead to further Israeli restrictions on individuals and goods passing from Israeli-controlled areas into and out of areas under Palestinian control.

"We will see further restrictions on industry in the coming weeks," he said, adding that the move was "purely political" and had little to do with consumer standards.

The announcement was received by the factories as the West Bank government wrapped up a shop-to-shop campaign in its ongoing battle to rid Palestinian markets of goods produced on illegal settlements, which Israel has criticized as a breach of economic agreements.

Preventing Palestinian meat and dairy products from entering Jerusalem, As-Sous said, must be taken on by a ministerial council. He called on the PA to take a firm stance on the issue, and affirmed the right of Palestinians in East Jerusalem to purchase and consume Palestinian-made goods.

Calls for retaliation

Dozens of dairy producers demonstrated in front of the office of the prime minister in Ramallah last week, calling for action on ensuring access to the Jerusalem market.

As-Sous suggested the PA retaliate and ban all Israeli meat and dairy products in the West Bank, but said the PA had not responded to his request.

According to the official, the ban follows similar action taken against Palestinian pharmaceutical products, which he said were banned from sale in Jerusalem markets, also based on claims that they did not meet Israeli standards.

The second ban proves Israel's intention to target Palestinian producers, As-Sous said, and will cut off 400,000 consumers in East Jerusalem and instead force them to purchase Israeli products.

He estimated losses at 10 million shekels (2.56 million US dollar) , while Israel, he said, sold approximately 60 million shekels (15.39 million US dollars) of product a year in the West Bank.
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