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Israel and Palestinian Authority end five-month dispute over cattle imports Open in fullscreen

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Israel and Palestinian Authority end five-month dispute over cattle imports

The Palestinian economy is dependent on Israel. [Getty]

Date of publication: 20 February, 2020

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The trade crisis erupted in September when the Palestinian Authority decided to stop importing beef in a bid to reduce economic dependence on Israel.
Israel on Thursday said it would reverse a ban on Palestinian agricultural exports, a move aimed at defusing an escalating trade crisis that heightened Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

Israeli Defence Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that Israel would allow the agricultural exports after the Palestinians began accepting Israeli beef. There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials.

The ratcheting down of the trade crisis comes amid spiralling tensions following the unveiling last month of President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan, which is hugely favourable to Israel. The Palestinians have rejected the plan outright.

The plan's call for annexing much of the West Bank has been widely condemned, with many comparing it to the "Bantustans" created under the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

The trade crisis erupted in September, when the Palestinians decided to stop importing beef from Israel.

The Palestinian Authority claimed most of the 120,000 head of cattle imported monthly from Israel came from abroad, and so would prefer to deal directly with foreign suppliers. The move appeared aimed at reducing the Palestinians' economic dependence on Israel.

Shortly after the September announcement, Israeli cattle ranchers saw a drop in their market and pressured Israeli authorities to take action.

Bennett retaliated with a ban on Palestinian beef and other products, triggering the Palestinians to expand their boycott, and stop importing Israeli vegetables, fruits, beverages and mineral water.

The Palestinians said their actions are aimed at pressuring Israel into revoking its ban, while Israel said normal trade would be restored the moment the Palestinians reverse the cattle ban that sparked the crisis.

The Palestinian economy is dependent on Israel.

A report last year from a UN trade body, UNCTAD, calculated that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza had denied Palestinian coffers some $47.7 billion in withheld taxes and other fiscal revenues between 2000 and 2017.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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