The Agriculture Ministry decided two months ago to divert settlements’ poultry products to markets outside the European Union after the EU imposed sanctions have made it very difficult to send such products to Europe.
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Officials at the foreign and agriculture ministries say that so far no serious economic damage has been done, with diversion to the local market solving the problem.
On February 17, the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, enacted procedures under which the EU would no longer recognize the authority of Israeli veterinary services for livestock in the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights.
Without veterinary approval, importing to EU countries becomes virtually impossible. The new regulation was reported in May by the Walla news website.
According to a senior Israeli official, an investigation showed that hens are supplied by some farms in the Jordan Valley to the Off Tov (Good Chicken) poultry plant, which prepares products exported to Europe.
The new procedures raised concerns that all the company’s exports to Europe would be blocked, given the difficulty in establishing the source of each product.
At the end of June, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, a member of the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, tried to resolve the issue. The ministry ordered the diversion of settlements products to plants that supply local markets, or to countries outside the European Union.
Hens from the settlements were put on different production lines to distinguish them from other poultry. A delegation of experts from the European Union arrived here in late July to confirm this separation so that exports to Europe could continue.
The new procedures have affected other items exported to Europe. According to the daily Maariv this weekend, dairy exporters were also told to separate items coming from settlements from those originating within Israel’s 1967 borders.
Fish products are expected to be next in line for such treatment. A plant at the Atarot industrial area north of Jerusalem raises fish for export to Europe. Other farmers export decorative fish to Europe. Without veterinary approval these companies will have to find another destinations.
Senior officials at the foreign and agriculture ministries say diversion to the local market will work for fish as well. Wine is also expected to be included in the new arrangement, but this will cause serious damage because many wineries are located across the 1967 borders.