Security Officials Warn of Violence over Israeli-Palestinian Trade War
On the backdrop of simmering political tensions over the Trump Administration’s peace plan, Israel and the Palestinians are engaged in an economic confrontation as a trade war intensifies. Israeli security officials on Sunday reportedly warned Defense Minister Naftali Bennet that his decision to ban the import of Palestinian fruits and vegetables could lead to an outbreak of violence. Bennett’s move, in turn, came after the Palestinian Authority in October imposed a ban on the import of Israeli-bred sheep and cattle, about 90% of the latter being sold to distributors in the West Bank. In response to the US peace plan, the PA has already threatened to cut off security cooperation with Israel, which the Israeli defense establishment views as crucial to preventing terrorist organizations such as Hamas from building a stronger presence in areas directly adjacent to major population centers such as Tel Aviv. The severing of economic ties, Israeli officials warned, could have a dire impact on both economies given that an estimated 100,000 Palestinians work in Israel, both legally and illegally, particularly in the construction sector. The PA purchases tens of billion of shekels worth of Israeli products each year while exporting some NIS 700 million (about US $225 million) of mainly produce-related goods.