For the past week, Palestinian Authority officials have been turning back Israeli-grown watermelons, in what appears to be an intentional boycott of the produce. Palestinian-grown vegetables, meanwhile, continue to flow into Israel.
According to Meir Yifrach, head of the Israel Vegetable Growers Association, Israeli watermelons are generally shipped to PA areas in large numbers at this time of year. Many of the watermelons sold at roadside stands in Judea and Samaria by Palestinians, in fact, are grown inside the 1949 armistice lines.
The PA has not declared an official boycott, but they have imposed one via their actions, Yifrach said.
Yifrach, along with dozens of farmers, has asked the Agriculture Ministry to prevent shipment of PA produce into Israel as long as Israeli produce is banned from PA-controlled areas. Yifrach said that he has been getting phone calls from PA merchants asking for watermelons – but the government of Mahmoud Abbas will not allow trucks carrying Israeli watermelons into PA-controlled areas.
“Meanwhile, their produce continues to enter Israel without interference,” Yifrach said. “They send us at least 500 tons of cucumbers a day, plus a lot more. Watermelon production and sales have traditionally been one of the best opportunities for cooperation between Israel and the PA, but that era now seems to be coming to an end.”
The Agricultural Ministry said that it was investigating the situation.