Gisha receives a response on a Freedom of Information Application regarding the sale of non-agricultural goods from Gaza in the West Bank
On February 1, 2015, Gisha sent the Freedom of Information Officer at the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) a reqest for information on the sale of non-agricultural goods from Gaza in the West Bank (Hebrew).
In the past few months, Israel has changed its policy on the sale of goods from Gaza in the West Bank, expanding the list of permitted goods beyond agricultural products to include products such as furniture and textiles. The policy was expanded without any protocols being published, which prompted us to submit a Freedom of Information Application to the COGAT seeking information about the new policy.
We requested the relevant protocols, if any such exist, as well as additional information regarding the coordination of shipments with government offices, required permits, the list of permitted goods, specifications regarding any restrictions, shipping fees, and more.
COGAT’s response arrived on March 24, 2015 (Hebrew), stating that shipment coordination is done by the Palestinian Commercial Goods Coordinator, Mr. Raad Fatouh and that COGAT does not approve shipments, but rather serves as a liaison between the Palestinian coordinator and the relevant ministries. The response also noted that, at present, only furniture and textiles are permitted.
According to COGAT, the considerations guiding the sale of goods relate to manufacturing capacities, supply and demand in the relevant markets, concerns regarding the possible flow of goods into the Israeli market, (unspecified) concerns relating to agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and concerns regarding crossing capacity.
In terms of the requirement to coordinate the arrival of trucks loaded with goods at the Kerem Shalom Crossing in advance, the letter stated that this requirement is the result of customs and VAT considerations, with the main concern being a “breach in the customs envelope”.