Palestinian Authority says calf imports ban ‘irreversible'

Al-Sheikh said on Twitter that he did not attend any meeting with Israeli officials regarding the calf imports crisis.

Cow illustrative (photo credit: KIM HANSEN/WIKIPEDIA)
Cow illustrative
(photo credit: KIM HANSEN/WIKIPEDIA)
The Palestinian Authority government on Tuesday denied that it has overturned its decision to ban the import of calves of Israel.
The denial came shortly after Channel 11 reported that the PA and Israel have reached agreement to resolve the crisis surrounding the calves.
The PA clarified that it has set up a special committee to look into requests by some meat traders who had signed contracts with Israeli livestock breeders before the ban was announced.
The ban on importing calves from Israel was taken a few weeks ago by PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh as part of his plan to achieve “gradual economic disengagement” from the Jewish State.
The move has angered both Israeli and Palestinian farmers, who complained that they were suffering major financial losses as a result of the sudden decision to ban the entry of the calves into the West Bank.
Israel had threatened to ban Palestinian produce from its markets in response to the calf ban. “Israel will not allow boycotts of any kind against Israeli produce,” COGAT head Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun said, noting that the ban was hurting the economies of both sides.
Last week, Palestinian meat traders announced a one-day strike to protest Shtayyeh’s decision, and warned that they would take additional measures to pressure the PA government to reverse its decision. The Palestinian traders said the PA government took the decision without consulting with them or providing any alternatives. The ban, they added, has led to a 20% increase in the price of beef calf in the West Bank market.
According to the Channel 11 report, the agreement was reached at a meeting that included: the director of the Agriculture Ministry, Shlomo Ben Eliyahu; the head of the civilian department in the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), Col. Sharon Biton; the PA Deputy Minister of Agriculture; and a senior representative of Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the PA’s General Authority for Civilian Affairs.
Al-Sheikh said on Twitter that he did not attend any meeting with Israeli officials regarding the calf importing crisis.
Ibrahim Milhem, spokesperson for the PA government, said that the ban is still in force and accused Israeli media of seeking to “undermine Palestinian national immunity and cast doubt about the government’s strategic decision, which was taken on instructions from President Mahmoud Abbas.”
The decision, Milhem said, is “irreversible” and was made in the context of Abbas’s decision to “strategically disengage” from Israel.
The spokesman confirmed that a meeting had taken place between Israeli and Palestinian officials, but insisted it only dealt with “phytosanitary and veterinary issues,” as well as the possibility of importing some vegetables and fruits from the Gaza Strip.
“The issue of the calves is a strategic decision,” Milhem added. “At its meeting yesterday, the [PA] government affirmed its determination to keep the ban. We will continue this policy of gradual disengagement [with Israel] in several fields such as the economy and industry.”
He also announced that the PA has received permission from Israel to import 10,000 calves from abroad.