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Last Updated:[01-10-2009 07:33:06 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Egyptian Lulav Prices Bring Israel and Gaza Closer

tradenews The tripling of lulav prices by the Egyptian suppliers during the festive season of Sukkot has forced Israel to allow Gazan exporters to supply lulavim (palm fronds) to fulfil its seasonal demand. Sukkot, a week-long festival that begins from October 3, is celebrated by using lulavim in the rituals surrounding the festivity.

Israeli importers told The Jerusalem Post that Egyptian exporters in El-Arish and other locations, the major suppliers of lulavim had formed a price cartel this year, and had demanded $1.50 per lulav, about three times the price demanded in previous years. One Jewish trader said that if one added shipping and packing costs, customs and value-added tax, the wholesale price of a lulav is at least $2.2, as opposed to about 80 cents usually.

According to the latest official communiqué, Gazans will be permitted to export lulavim to Israel after Religious Services Minister Ya'acov Margi received special permission to do so from Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Such a decision is taken by the Israeli government after the religious services minister was egged by the lulav importers to intervene after Egyptian lulavim became dearer.

Israel does not cultivate lulavim, and it largely relies on imports for its domestic consumption. Until recently, Egypt remained the major suppliers of lulavim but this year a part of the demand is met through Jordanian imports.

However, the importers opined that while Margi's attempt to open the Gaza lulav market was commendable, it was "too little, too late." They blamed the delay in decision had already flooded the market with expensive lulavim, and even if the merchandise arrived in the coming days it was most unlikely to make much of an impact.

Margi's spokesman Alon Nuriel stated that Barak agreed to open up Gaza's lulav exports in coordination with the Agriculture Ministry and the IDF's coordinator of government activities in the territories. Nuriel also provided the letter signed by Barak's aide, attorney Ruth Bar, authorizing the export.

By Jose Roy

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