UAE stuns BDS movement—will not boycott Israeli products from West Bank, trade official says

The United Arab Emirates will import Israeli products no matter where they are made including the West Bank, a trade official from the Gulf state said.

“We are an open market in every sense of the word, and that means the broader the trade is and the more it is able to help various populations in the region, the better,” said Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

There is no need to distinguish between products coming from Israel proper or the West Bank and hence, the UAE will not boycott West Bank goods, Buamim said.

But he pointed out that his country’s decision will help tens of thousands of Palestinians employed by Israeli factories. UAE-Israeli cooperation should boost the Palestinian Authority’s economy, he said.

“The advantages of the current [normalization] agreements and those that will come for the Palestinians are particularly great, and they have the potential to make the necessary change in the area,” Buamim said.

Buamim also said that in addition to the Israelis who have been rushing to the UAE since normalization in September, Palestinian businesspeople have also been showing up. He predicts that many other Arab countries will see what happening between Israel and the UAE and join the normalization process.

Last week Bahrain took back a statement made by the Gulf kingdom’s trade minister that the country would not label West Bank products differently as does the overwhelming majority of the international community which considers the settlements illegal. The United States reversed this policy last month, one of the Trump administration’s parting gifts to the Jewish state after four years of several positive decisions. 

The Dubai-based FAM Holding signed deals this week to import wine, honey, olive oil and tahini from Israeli producers in the West Bank, according to Globes.

“Now it can be revealed: We signed a special cooperation agreement on the distribution of Tura wines and [olive] oils across the UAE,” Tura posted on its Facebook page along with photos of co-owner Vered Ben Sa’adon shaking hands with her new business partner at the signing ceremony in Dubai. “Straight from Rechelim in Israel to the UAE — history!”

Globes noted that “the Abraham Accords have the potential to turn Israel into the economic gateway to the Middle East from Europe.”

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