The Israeli government has allocated a fund of NIS 7 million (some US$2 million) to help promote settler produce targeted by an international boycott.
During a visit to settlements in the Jordan Valley, part of the occupied West Bank, Israeli minister Gilad Erdan declared that his Ministry of Strategic Affairs will aid settler farmers reach new markets by showcasing their produce at global trade fairs and conventions.
“The Jordan Valley is a part of the State of Israel and it shall remain so forever”, said Erdan.
“The farmers here maintain an amazing model of coexistence, employ Palestinians at high wages, the joint activity contributes to strengthened relations, and if there is any chance for peace, it’s thanks to the settlements here and the agricultural and economic projects which are maintained here in partnership”.
He added: “Unfortunately, boycott groups across the world focus exactly on these places and it harms the farmers and the prospects of coexistence”.
According to reports, the ministry has allocated the money as part of a joint project with the Jordan Valley’s settler regional council over the next two years.
Apart from taking produce to trade fairs, the government will “fund delegations of influential figures to the area in order for them to be impressed by the agricultural produce and the local cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in the development of agricultural produce”.
Erdan described the settlements in the Jordan Valley as being the focus of boycott campaigns, as well as by initiatives such the correct labelling of produce.
David Elhiani, head of the Regional Council of the Jordan Valley and chair of the Settlement Forum for Combatting the Boycott, responded positively to the government initiative.
“Our produce is boycotted in some countries in Europe and America, and the damage to farmers is big. We are happy for the change of course in the government and for the assistance granted by Minister Erdan”.
He continued: “Together, we have come up with a comprehensive action plan with Ministry budget, and at last we see active measures for the farmers and those harmed by the labelling of products, which will finally assist the struggle and advance agriculture in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].”