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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Israel allows Gazans to export cherry tomatoes. The PA denies it.

From YNet:
Palestinian farmers will start exporting cherry tomatoes from the Gaza Strip this week, as part of a government decision from the end of 2010 to expand the Strip's agricultural exports.

The first stage will see some 50 tons of tomatoes sent to Europe through Israel. According to estimates, the exports will yield Gaza's farmers some €150,000 (about $206,500).

The Palestinian farmers will deliver the tomatoes through the Kerem Shalom crossing to Israeli agricultural export company Agrexco, which markets the produce in Europe. The money is transferred to agricultural cooperatives, which will hand it over to the Palestinian farmers.

The Agrexco company stresses that it has lists of the growers and ensures that the money reaches them.

As part of the exports, which began in November 2010, the Strip's farmers export strawberries, carnations and peppers. Meanwhile, the pepper exports have been halted due to technical problems.

So far, Gaza's farmers have exported some 367 tons of strawberries worth €1.8 million ($2.5 million), about 5.3 million carnations worth €850,000 ($1.17 million) and 6 tons of peppers.

The agricultural activity in the Strip is conducted with the help of the Dutch government, as part of a special project training farmers and providing them with infrastructure through a Palestinian agricultural company.
But the PA is saying that this is not true. From their official WAFA news agency:
Abdel Karim Ashur, head of Agricultural Relief Committee in Gaza Strip, denied news Wednesday about an Israeli permit to export vegetables and specifically tomatoes from the Gaza Strip to European markets.

However, Israeli media claimed that Israel allowed the export of tomatoes from Gaza into European markets through Karm Abu Salem crossing.

Ashur told WAFA that Israeli authorities allowed on Tuesday and for the first time the export of only two tons of cherry tomatoes, almost at the end of the tomato season, pointing out that Palestinian farmers agreed to that only to maintain their presence in European markets.

Ashur added that this permit is not a gift from Israel but is a result of pressure on Israel, by Dutch companies cooperating with Palestinian companies, to allow export of cherries, pepper and tomatoes.

Israel is still refusing to allow the export of tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables to European markets and even West Bank markets which offer better prices than Europe, according to Ashur.

He added these measures restrict economic development in Palestine and specially that of the agricultural sector.
Ummm...the photos seem to show otherwise:
A Palestinian worker checks a truckload of cherry tomatoes bound for Europe before it crosses into Israel at the Kerem Shalom crossing point near Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 2, 2011.



Boxes of cherry tomatoes from the Gaza Strip bound for Europe are seen at the Kerem Shalom crossing terminal March 2, 2011
Coral is the brand name of Palestinian Arab produce marketed by Agrexco to Europe.

And as I have shown recently, BDSers want the boycott of Israeli products to include Palestinian Arab produce as well!