In mid-October, the Palestinian Authority decided to stop importing calves from Israel, dealing a severe economic blow to Israeli growers, who must continue feeding the calves beyond the usual schedule – with heavy economic consequences.
The cost of feeding a calf is about 300 shekel a month, so that a farm growing 100 calves would endure an extra monthly expense of 30,000 shekel, in addition to the loss of income of about 6,000 shekel per calf (or about 600,000 shekel per 100 calves).
The live calves are imported from abroad, and are grown and fattened in Israel before being sent to slaughter.
In addition, according to The Marker, some growers in Israel claim that meat merchants from the Palestinian Authority have stopped paying for past imports, too, because the meat business is credit-based, and without the next round of shipments the Arab merchants have no cash flow.
This means a severe blow to the income of hundreds of Israeli growers and Arab merchants.
Heavy pressure is being exerted on PM Mohammad Shtayyeh to change his decision from PA politicians.
Two PA officials, Intelligence chief Majid Faraj and Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein a-Sheikh, have appealed to Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to reverse the boycott decision, but PM Shtayyeh warned in closed talks that he would resign if he were forced to fold under Israeli pressure.
In Ramallah, opponents of the decision say it was made without creating a proper alternative and without giving the opportunity for the Palestinian market to prepare for the move. Traders in the industry also say they should have been given a reasonable period of several years to prepare the market before deciding on such a move. As things stand now, they say, the move was a death sentence for the PA meat merchants.
About 90% of the beef calves consumed in the PA come from Israeli farmers.
Israel is considering stopping the entry of goods, products and equipment to the Palestinian Authority which are being shipped via Israeli harbors; this in addition to banning the export of olive oil and dates to Arab countries via Israeli-controlled border crossings. The first retaliatory steps aimed at the PA economy could be taken as early as next week.
Butchers in the territories have already raised the price of calves by as much as 25%, and report a severe shortage of calves in the PA markets. According to reports from Ramallah, one kg. of veal has risen from 45 shekel to 55 and even more. The price of a live calf increased by 4 shekel for every kilogram – an additional 1,000 to 1,600 shekel per calf.