Growing the spice saffron in the Golan Heights will stop the financing of Iran and its support of terrorism, New Hope MK Zvi Hauser said on Tuesday, according to the Knesset television channel.
"In the Golan Heights an experiment has been established to attempt a global breakthrough to grow saffron, which is maybe the most expensive spice in the world, and who the leading grower of saffron today is the Iranians," Hauser revealed in a Knesset channel video.
"I think that specifically the Jewish State — Here in the Golan Heights — If we invest, it won't just be an investment destined for technological investment, there is symbolism here," said Hauser. "We will free the world from Iranian hands, the Iranians that today rely on the saffron and allow the free world to enjoy saffron and not finance terrorism and the evil of Iran."
Saffron is a red thread-like spice that are the Saffron flower's stigma and style — The thin filaments that one can see sticking out from the center of many types of flowers. Saffron imparts a yellow hue, sweetness and a saccharine hay-like aroma to a dish.
Saffron threads must be hand-plucked from the flower in an incredibly labor-intensive process, according to Business Insider. According to CNN, saffron is the most expensive in the world at at least $1500 per pound.
Saffron can grow in a variety of environments, and best in deep clay soils — Though it is yet unknown if it can be successfully cultivated in the Golan Heights at a high quality, and at a sustainable cost.
Meadow saffron, a toxic false crocus flower that is similar to the true crocus flower saffron, does grow in the Golan. Recent reports have suggested that the drug colchicine that is derived from meadow saffron can be used to treat COVID-19 symptoms, in addition to its traditional treatment for gout. True saffron is also used in drugs and traditional medicine, and has anti-depressant qualities.
Iran produces 90% of the world's saffron. According to Arash Ghalehgolabbehbahani, a post-doctoral research associate at the University of Vermont who spoke to Business Insider, the reason for Iran's near-monopoly of the product is the availability of cheap labor — Which in some places is like slavery.
Iran is a financier or operator of several non-state actor groups in the Middle East, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Yemen's Houthi, and militias in Iraq. Many of these organizations are widely recognized as terrorist organizations.