EEC Official To Discuss Exports from Israel’s West Bank
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A top official of the European Economic Community will discuss European demands that Israel permit direct export of goods from the occupied West Bank when he visits Israel in October, a Foreign Ministry official said.
Claude Cheysson, EEC commissioner for Mediterranean policy and former French foreign minister, also will discuss Israel’s relations with the 12- nation trading bloc, the Israeli official said Monday.
″This is, no doubt, an important visit in the framework of our contacts with the EEC, which is our main trade partner,″ said the official, who spoke on condition he not be identified.
About 800,000 Palestinians live in the West Bank, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war.
Earlier this month, the Common Market denounced Israel’s policy of preventing West Bank Palestinians from directly exporting their agricultural products to Europe.
Israel decided this year to allow such exports but has not created a framework to allow for direct export to Europe. The official said Israel plans to set up a special exports office soon.
Palestinian farmers currently export their goods through the Israeli government-run AGREXCO export company.
Israeli agricultural exports to the Common Market total about $500 million a year, while exports from the West Bank total $4 million annually, according to Agriculture Ministry spokesman Naftali Yaniv.
An Israeli agricultural official, who requested anonymity, said the plan to permit direct West Bank exports made no economic sense.
″The Arab farmers want to export through AGREXCO, and besides, the cost of establishing an infrastructure for direct export will be more than the exports themselves,″ he said.