Daily Israel Report

Britain and Germany Block PA Olive Council Bid

Unilateral action to join International Olive Council blocked over arguments the act jeopardizes peace talks and violates conditions.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 11/29/2013, 1:32 PM

PA woman harvests olives
PA woman harvests olives
Flash 90

Opposition by Germany and Britain have forced the Palestinian Authority (PA) to cancel their application to become a "member state" of the International Olive Council.

In April, as part of the peace talks with Israel, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas promised not to take unilateral action in joining international bodies.

Just recently Nabil Shaath, a senior official in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), threatened that his organization was ready to join international organizations as the talks have failed to deliver results in the course of 5 months. On Friday Shaath emphasized that the PA is only remaining in the talks to free all 104 terrorists whose release was promised as a "gesture."

European diplomatic sources told Haaretz that German and British representatives blocked the application, noting that if the PA were to join the international organization it could threaten the peace talks. US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to return to Israel next week to keep pushing peace talks.

The PA application was supposed to be voted on at a meeting in Madrid this week.

German and British opposition was able to rule out the application, as European Union (EU) member states are represented by one delegation at the olive council, and a lack of consensus forces the delegation to abstain from voting.

In late October, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah revealed plans to plant 750,000 olive trees in "Area A" as compensation for alleged "settler attacks."

Sagi Kaizler, Director of the grassroots Samaria Residents Council, last month said "a machine of false propaganda (has) developed around the olive harvest in Samaria. Radical leftist groups flooded the media with false reports that Jews were damaging olive trees and hurting Arabs."

Meanwhile PA Arabs were caught on film in October cutting down olive trees in Samaria to create a provocation.

Jews in Judea and Samaria have long argued that Arabs in the region use the olive harvest as a pretext to prepare attacks on the Jewish communities. Often PA Arabs insist on entering Jewish communities to pick olives under IDF protection.

PA residents often prey on the ignorance of Western journalists, who do not know that hacking off olive trees' branches is a token part of the harvesting process. As such, olive harvest season has become a breeding ground for false claims of vandalism.

Video footage from October showed Arabs gathering near Itamar to ostensibly gather olives, but secretly filming Jewish homes, while one Arab man made a threatening throat-cutting gesture with his machete.

In March Itamar was the site of a massacre in which two Arabs snuck into a home and violently murdered 5 members of the Fogel family, including a 2 month old baby.