Palestinian farmers invited to Israel expo

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 |  Israel Today Staff

In yet another piece of news contradicting claims that Israel "has it out" for the Palestinians, some 30 farmers from the Gaza Strip were invited to attend an agricultural expo in southern Israel earlier this month.

"Agriculture knows no borders," Uri Madar from the agriculture department at Israel's District Coordination Office told the Ynet news portal. "If things are calm on the security front, there is no reason not to boost agricultural and economical ties."

Ahmed Shafi, the head of the Gaza City Agricultural Association, also refuted accusations that Israel is imposing a blanket siege against Gaza with the aim of crippling its economy.

"Gaza exports produce to Europe every day," Shafi told Ynet. In fact, last month alone Gaza exported 200 tons of strawberries, 130 tons of tomatoes and over 100 million tons of flowers to Europe.

Those numbers used to be even greater when Gazans were permitted to also export large quantities of produce to Israel. But when Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007, it imposed restrictions on doing business with Israel.

Many of the farmers attending the expo expressed hope that one day they would be able to again fully partner with their Israeli counterparts.

"We have every interest in working with our Israeli neighbors," Jamal Abu Al-Najjar was quoted as saying by French media.

This cooperation is evidence of the Israeli government's efforts to promote an economic peace that provides Palestinians with financial stability, if not with an independent state.

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