BRUSSELS (Aug. 24)
An Israeli threat to block some Palestinian agriculture exports to the European Community would be a “serious incident,” the European commissioner in charge of Mediterranean policy, Claude Cheysson, warned here Wednesday.
Cheysson reacted to a statement made earlier this week by the Israeli Agriculture Minister, Arieh Nahamkin, who advised that Israel would prevent the export of agricultural products to the EC and Jordan from Palestinians who are collaborating with elements hostile to Israel.
“If the Israeli government would hinder a Palestinian export contract drawn up in due form with the European Community, it would be a serious incident,” Cheysson said.
He added, however, that Nahamkin’s declarations don’t worry him as they are perhaps linked to the electoral climate in Israel.
Israel agreed earlier this year to let the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza export their farm produce directly to the EC market without any interference by Israel’s marketing government companies.
Last month, for the first time, Palestinian farmers from the Gaza Strip concluded contracts directly with European importers. The Gaza agricultural products, mainly citrus fruits, are to be shipped to Europe in October.
According to EC sources in Brussels, any attempt by Israel to block Palestinian exports to the EC would be considered a serious blow to EC-Israel relations, in view of the fact that the European Parliament in Strasbourg has yet to give its blessing to three EC-Israel trade and financial protocols.