PA warns of intl. intervention against Israeli trade embargo threats

The Palestinian Minister of Agriculture said that he had not heard about the threat by Israel from any official source and had so far only heard about them from the media.

Cow illustrative (photo credit: KIM HANSEN/WIKIPEDIA)
Cow illustrative
(photo credit: KIM HANSEN/WIKIPEDIA)
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyadh al-Maliki warned that the Palestinian Authority would call for international arbitration if Israel implemented threats to ban Palestinian exports of dates and olive oil, as tensions rise in the "trade war" between the two governments after the PA banned the import of calves from Israel earlier this month.
In an interview with Voice of Palestine radio on Monday, Maliki said that the Palestinians could resort to the International Court of Arbitration, as well as the United Nations Human Rights Council, the International Court of Justice and the UN General Assembly, in order to force Israel to retreat from such threats.
The foreign minister stressed that the threats by Israel would not get them to "back down or give up."
Palestinian Agriculture Minister Riyad al-Attari said in a radio interview on Sunday that he had not heard about the threat by Israel from any official source and had so far only heard about them from the media.
"If the Israeli government makes any decision, the Palestinian government, in consultation with all the competent authorities, will consider the appropriate mechanism to respond.
Channel 11 reported on Friday that Israel was considering taking a number of punitive measures against the PA in response to the ban on importing calves. The measures include, among other things, banning the entry of international aid to the West Bank and preventing the export of Palestinian olive oil and dates to the Arab countries, the report said.
Attari stressed that there was no shortage of meat in terms of quantities in the Palestinian market and that prices were not rising.
According to Palestinians, the ban has already raised the price of beef in the West Bank by 20% and increased the smuggling of calves from Israel.
Palestinian meat merchants demonstrated on Monday in Ramallah against the Palestinian Authority's decision to ban the import of cows from Israel, demanding that the decision be reversed.
Some merchants expressed fears that the decision could lead to a monopoly on imports which could raise prices.
Palestinian Authority spokesman Ibrahim Melhem said that the government will discuss proposals submitted by merchants to the Minister of Agriculture through the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, but that it would not back down from its decision to gradually withdraw from Israel.
More than 90% of the beef calves consumed in the West Bank come from Israel.
Shtayyeh’s move is in the context of his plan for “economic disengagement” from Israel. As part of this plan, the PA government earlier this year also stopped referring Palestinian patients to Israeli hospitals.
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.