Two truckloads of potatoes from the Gaza Strip have been denied entry into Jordan on the grounds that the beleaguered territory “does not produce potatoes”. Exporter Samir Zaqout said that the potatoes went smoothly from the Gaza Strip through Israel to the West Bank and the King Hussein Bridge. It was there that the Jordanian authorities refused to let them enter on the grounds that the Gaza Strip is not registered in its records as an exporter of potatoes.
“We were surprised by the Jordanian decision, especially because Israeli approval took such a long time and very specific conditions were met and safety checks were made,” said Zaqout. “The strip has a surplus of 2,000 tons in its production of potatoes and if the potatoes had been bad then how did they pass the strict Israeli tests and conditions?”
His company will lose about 60-65,000 shekels (around $18,000) as a result of Jordan’s refusal to import the potatoes. “We were optimistic when the Israelis allowed us to export some of our potato crop, and we hoped that this would help us make up for the losses we had in the past years, but it has turned into a nightmare.”
Zaqout raised doubts about the role of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah: “Where is the Palestinian Authority that is responsible for the Palestinians and their problems?” He accused PA officials of just standing by and watching this take place. “They made no move. I had hoped that their position would be better than that, as the success of Palestinian agriculture is in the interest of all.”