On February 9, Sunday, Israel banned the export of Palestinian goods to the international market via the crossing on the border between Jordan and the occupied West Bank, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA). The border crossing through Jordan is the occupied West Bank’s only direct access to the outside world.
Palestinian Authority (PA) had in September last year decided to start boycotting cattle imports from Israel. Last week, it announced that it will ban additional Israeli products and their entry into the Palestinian market. This is in response to the biased ‘Middle East Peace Plan’ announced recently by US president Donald Trump and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Palestinians argue that the plan is another attempt to legitimize the Israeli occupation and the oppression of Palestine.
Israel, on the other hand, claims that the ban on Palestinian exports via Jordan has been imposed in response to the ban on Israeli imports by the PA.
However, according to political observers, the government in the occupied territory of Palestine does not have any obligation to trade with the occupying power, Israel. It has been further noted that the Israeli ban on Palestinian trade is a clear violation of the rules of World Trade Organisation, and is an attempt to coerce Palestinians to submit to Israeli diktats. The move by Israel will further exacerbate the suffering of the people of Palestine.
The Palestinian minister of national economy, Khaled Osseii, said on Sunday that the Palestinian government is also contemplating political, legal, and diplomatic measures against the Israeli decision to stop the export of Palestinian products via Jordan.
At an emergency meeting of the Palestinian exports council in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, the minister said that the Israeli restrictions on Palestinian products were a “flagrant violation of the rules of the World Trade Organisation, of which Israel is a member, as well as other relevant agreements and treaties.”
Israeli military begins imposing ban
As a result of the Israeli decision, Palestinian farmers complained that their trucks were being stopped at the Palestine-Jordan border. Even before the Israeli announcement on Sunday, Palestinians reported that nine out of twenty five trucks that were on their way to Turkey via Jordan were sent back by Israel.
Palestinian exports to international markets amount to around USD 100 million per year on average. The agriculture export industry also provides livelihood for a large number of people in Palestine, who are denied other opportunities due to the Israeli occupation.
As Israel banned Palestinian exports from the West Bank, the Israeli authorities opened the gates of their dams in Gaza, flooding Palestinian farm lands. The flooding caused massive damage to crops just before the beginning of the harvest season.
Gaza is already reeling under the effects of a brutal Israeli siege, with the blockade of its air, sea and land borders, since the last 14 years. This has caused severe economic hardships and damage.