Israeli products (illustration)
Israeli products (illustration) Flash 90

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has decided to “punish” Israel by halting imports to the PA from five major Israeli food production companies, the Ma'an news agency reported Tuesday.

In a statement released after the weekly cabinet meeting, the PA government said the decision was in response to an Israeli ban on products from five Palestinian companies earlier this month.

According to the statement, the Israeli companies whose products will be banned from PA-controlled areas are Tnuva, Strauss, Tara, Soglowek and Tapuzina.

The statement added that the relevant authorities have been instructed "to put the decision into effect after giving Palestinian merchants enough time to sell the products stocked in their stores", according to Ma'an.

The move to boycott Israeli companies comes after on Sunday, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah slammed the recent Israeli decision to ban Palestinian food products from entering Jerusalem as "racist" and claimed it is one of many "attempts to isolate Jerusalem from its surroundings and erase its identity."

Hamdallah described the Israeli decision as an "oppressive, political" decision breaching all commercial agreements and protocols regulating Palestinian and Israeli economic relations, and an effort to "wipe out our national economy and suppress its development", according to Ma'an.

Fadi Abu Hilweh, the director of marketing for Hamoda company -- one of the companies affected by the Israeli decision -- told Ma'an at a protest against the ban on March 13 that about 50 percent of the five Palestinian companies' production goes to Palestinian consumers in eastern Jerusalem and Palestinian communities in Israel.

If the ban continues, he warned, the companies could lose some 1.2 billion shekels ($310 million) a year.

The move is not the first time that the PA has decided to boycott Israeli companies. In March of last year, it declared an “economic war” against Israel and launched a campaign calling to boycott Israeli products.

A month earlier, a national Palestinian committee announced it would prohibit the sale of products by six major Israel companies in areas of Judea and Samaria controlled by the PA.

The 2015 moves were a Palestinian response to Israel's decision to freeze tax funds to the Palestinian Authority as well as other "Israeli violations," which include "appropriation of large tracts of Palestinian land for settlement purposes."  

Israeli's move came as a result of the PA's unilateral moves, including turning to the United Nations Security Council for statehood and joining the International Criminal Court in order to lodge a war crimes complaint against Israel.