Government announces plan to allow free import of fruits and vegetables

'This will deal a death blow to Israeli agriculture, which is already fighting for its existence,' says Otzar Ha'aretz.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Vegetable stall (illustrative)
Vegetable stall (illustrative)

Hot on the heels of the government’s announcement that it plans to introduce reforms to kosher certification of food items, came another food-related announcement. On Wednesday, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman, together with Agriculture Minister Oded Forer (a member of Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party), announced that they plan to completely open the country to imports of fruits and vegetables: Within five years, they want to see all import barriers removed.

Their stated intention is to increase competition and lower prices, but while that indeed may happen at first, another significant result, critics say, will be to deal a fatal blow to Israeli agriculture.

“At a time like this, when Israeli farmers are just starting to get back on their feet after the severe economic impact they suffered during the coronavirus crisis, the Agriculture and Finance ministers are choosing to implement a new plan that will deal a critical blow to tens of thousands of farmers and their families,” the Otzar Ha’aretz organization told Behadrey Haredim.

“This decision illustrates a loss of the value of Jewish agriculture in the Land of Israel – which is one of the most important values upon which the State is supposed to be founded. It will deal a death blow to a sector that is already fighting for its existence. Such a plan will reduce local production to a minimum, and will lead to the State being totally dependent on the produce of foreign countries – which will also deal a harsh blow to the country’s security,” the organization said.

The director of Otzar Ha’aretz, Eytan Meir, added, “Just this week we saw the power of the BDS organization. This time it was ice cream, but next time it could directly impact even basic food items such as bread, milk, meat, sugar, and rice.”

Meir also stressed that, “Such a move is also significant from a security perspective. Also this week, we first heard about how Arab drivers refused to drive army trucks during the Guardian of the Walls operation. Such events illustrate how vital it is to ensure that we do not become dependent on others, on people who can turn around one day and leave us stranded, without essential supplies. Israel must remain independent in the economic sphere just as it must do so with security issues.”

In the last few days, several leading rabbis from the Religious Zionist sector, including Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, and Rabbi Dov Lior, alongside hundreds of other municipal rabbis, issued a call to purchase agricultural produce from Jews and to refrain from purchasing from foreigners.