Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian Authority customs said agents seized a truck loaded with ten tons of cantaloupe from Israeli settlements en route to Bethlehem on Sunday night.
Director of Bethlehem”s customs office Amin Abu Aqil said the fruit was set for sale in Bethlehem markets, in contravention of the PA ban on the purchase or sale of goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Abu Aqil said charges were pressed on the merchant importing the goods from the settlement, and noted his file would be handed over to the general prosecution for legal procedures.
The ban, announced in March, already includes all goods manufactured or grown in Israeli settlements and in April the Ministry of Communications said the ban would encompass the sale of mobile phone services for Israeli providers with towers located in illegal settlements, including Orange and Cellcom.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon had early concerns about the boycott, and said Sunday that Israel would demand a revocation of the orders when Palestinian officials return to peace negotiations later in the week. Israel will notify the US and the Quartet about that demand, he said.
Head of customs agents in the West Bank Ghalib Diwan said his department would continue to enforce the ban and keep Palestinian markets free of settlement goods. “We are working at full capacity to protect our citizens from the products which harm their health and harm the future Palestinian state,” he said.
Goods from settlements are often found spoiled, past their expiry date or otherwise in contravention of Palestinain import regulations. In an effort to apply pressure and symbolically reinforce the illegal nature of the settlements under international law, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad initiated a campaign to halt support for settlement economies, and encourage the production of locally-made goods in an attempt to divert work to the Palestinian economy.