Gisha in a second letter to the ministers of agriculture and finance: Lift the restrictions on the sale of Gaza tomatoes in Israel
Produce from Gaza has been sold in Israel since March 2015, when sales resumed after a seven-year ban. However, sales were limited to eggplant and tomatoes, subject to a quota of 250 tons per month and earmarked for the Orthodox Jewish community, due to the religious practice of leaving fields fallow for one year every seven years.
According to a report (Hebrew) published on July 19, 2016 in The Marker, this year, too, it appears that there will be a shortage of tomatoes in the Israeli market during the Jewish holiday season (the High Holy Days and Sukkot). In order to prevent the shortage and higher tomato prices, the minister of agriculture decided to waive the import tax on tomatoes originating from countries that are members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is a continuation of the minister’s 2015 decision to waive customs on fruits and vegetables from Jordan and other countries.
In response to this report, Gisha once again wrote (Hebrew) to the ministers of agriculture and finance, as it had done before the holidays last year. Given that the solution of waiving customs failed last year – the price of tomatoes did not decrease and the shortage was not prevented – Gisha suggested the ministers reconsider the possibility of removing the existing restrictions on the sale of Gaza produce in Israel and, in particular, to expand the quota for tomatoes.
In its letter, Gisha detailed the many reasons why it would be better to choose the option of increasing sales of Gaza produce over waiving customs duties for import from other countries, including the quality of the produce from Gaza, efficiency given geographic proximity and the fact that it is not necessary to waive customs since Gaza belongs to the same customs zone as Israel.
Furthermore, the letter points out that the sale of Gaza produce has already proven worthwhile and profitable for all parties concerned, that removing the existing restrictions is clearly in Israel’s economic interest and that it is congruent with Israel’s declared interest in strengthening and supporting Gaza’s economy.