Despite the fact that date palm branches, used in ritual ceremonies during the festival of Succot, will not be imported from Egypt this year, merchants in Jerusalem have said that there is no shortage and that prices should remain stable.

One of the religious observances of Succot is the use of the Four Species, or Arba Minim in Hebrew, in prayer services for the duration of the holiday.

The Four Species comprise palm branches (lulavim), citrons (etrogim), myrtle stems (hadassim) and willow stems (aravot).

Palm branches from Egypt known as El-Arish branches were regularly imported into Israel in years past but the revolution in Egypt and the deterioration in ties with Israel have hindered this process.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, El-Arish palm branches will not be imported this year since the ministry was not able to make the requisite arrangements with the its counterparts in Cairo.

But Arba Minim merchants in Jerusalem’s ultra- Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood say that despite the lack of El-Arish branches there will be no shortage this year.

Several traders approached by The Jerusalem Post said that there is now a sufficient harvest of lulavim in Israel to supply the majority of the Israeli market.

A spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry confirmed that efforts to secure the export of El-Arish branches had not been particularly strenuous because of the satisfactory production in Israel.

However, the El-Arish branches are generally considered to be of lower quality, and therefore less desirable, than the Deri or Zahidi date palms grown in Israel.

As such, the haredi market generally uses Israeli branches, and will not be affected by the lack of Egyptian lulavim, but one dealer said that the lack of El-Arish branches might lead to a slight increase in prices for those have been less punctilious about the quality of their lulavim in the past.

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