Israel stops importing West Bank fruits, vegetables: officials

RAMALLAH, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) — Israel has decided to stop importing Palestinian-grown fruits and vegetables from the West Bank, Palestinian officials said on Wednesday.

Israel has stopped importing fruits and vegetables from the West Bank for the second day, said Abdulla Lahlouh, director general of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in the West Bank, in a statement.

According to the Palestinian official news agency WAFA, Israel unilaterally made the decision without informing the Palestinian Authority on the decision in advance.

The reports said that during 2017, the Palestinian exports of vegetables to the Israeli markets had reached 56 million U.S. dollars and those of fruits were five million dollars.

Lahlouh warned that if Israel does not give an explanation on its decision, “the Palestinian government will equally respond in case there is an official Israeli decision to stop importing fruits and vegetables from the West Bank.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Israeli radio reported that Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel instructed to stop importing fruits and vegetables from the West Bank in response to the Palestinian decision of stopping importing Israeli sheep.

Lahlouh clarified that his ministry made the decision to stop importing Israeli sheep and sheep from other neighboring countries on Dec. 2 “due to the drop of meat prices to protect farmers and livestock breeders in Palestine.”

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