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Israel, Palestinians defuse agricultural trade crisis

by Ace Damon
Israel, Palestinians defuse agricultural trade crisis

JERUSALEM (AP) – Israel's defense minister said Thursday that the country would allow Palestinian agricultural exports, a measure designed to neutralize what has been a growing trade crisis that has increased tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that Israel would allow agricultural exports after the Palestinians start accepting Israeli beef. There were no immediate comments from the Palestinian authorities.

The escalating trade crisis comes when tensions between Israel and the Palestinians are high following the launch last month of President Donald Trump's Middle East initiative, which is extremely supportive of Israel. The Palestinians rejected the plan completely.

The trade crisis broke out in September, when the Palestinians decided to stop importing meat from Israel. The Palestinian Authority claimed that most of the 120,000 head of cattle that imported from Israel monthly were imported and therefore preferred to import directly from abroad. The move appeared to be aimed at reducing Palestinian economic dependence on Israel.

Shortly after the September announcement, Israeli ranchers saw a drop in their market and pressured Israeli authorities to act. Bennett retaliated by banning Palestinian meat and other products, prompting Palestinians to expand their boycott and to stop importing Israeli vegetables, fruits, drinks and mineral water

The Palestinians said their actions were aimed at putting pressure on Israel to lift its ban, while Israel said normal trade would be restored when the Palestinians reversed the cattle ban that caused the crisis.

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