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Palestinians angered by Israel-UAE trade

Having long denounced Israel’s burgeoning peace process in the Middle East, Palestinians are now further enraged over deepening trade ties between the Jewish and Arab states.

The latest condemnation from Ramallah is from the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Economy, which has denounced the purchase of products produced in Israeli settlements as “a flagrant violation of international laws … and an attempt to legitimize settlements in occupied territory.”

Israel disputes that its communities in Judea and Samaria – commonly referred to the West Bank – are illegal, citing the biblical and historical roots of the Jewish People to the ancient land, as well as current political and security needs. Some 440,000 Israelis are estimated to live among about 3 million Palestinians, who want the territory for a future state.

Violent demonstrations erupted across Palestinian-controlled lands last year when Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed to normalize ties under a U.S.-brokered deal last August. Since that time, three more Arab countries have formalized relations with the Jewish State.

“It breaks your heart to see your Muslim brothers support your enemy at your expense,” Nizam Abdul Razzaq, 57, told Reuters. The Palestinian olive and bee farmer lives in the Yasouf village, located just 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away from the Israeli Rehelim settlement that has supplied olive oil and wine to the UAE.

Bottles clearly labeled: “WINE FROM THE LAND OF ISRAEL” produced at Rehilim’s “Tura Winery” have already been shipped to the UAE. Tura posted a photo on its Facebook page of a signing ceremony with the UAE business conglomerate “FAM Holding” in Dubai last December, in which a bottle of the company’s wine is prominently displayed on a table at the event. The UAE’s “African + Eastern” alcohol retailer announced that it has not only stocked wine from Tura, but also from the Golan Heights.

“It’s very exciting for (people in the UAE) to feel the peace process, to be a part of it. When you sit in a hotel in Abu Dhabi, and drink a glass of Tura (wine), it’s to be a part of history,” said the company’s Vered Ben-Sa’adon.

A FAM representative confirmed that it has import deals for wine and olive oil with Tura, as well as for honey from the “Paradise Honey” company located in the West Bank settlement of Hermesh. All of FAM’s Israel imports have been approved by the UAE government, the representative added, without saying if origin labels would be required.

Matan Paradise, whose family operates the Israeli honey company, verified that a “small, first shipment to Dubai” has been sent, with hope of more orders in the near future.

The United States bans any discriminatory labeling of settlement exports, requiring they should be marked as “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel.” The European Union, however, mandates such specification; which is promoted by the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden was critical of Israel’s settlement enterprise while serving as Vice President during the term of his predecessor Barak Obama; but he has not stated whether he would change the Trump administration’s labelling guidelines.

The UAE declined comment when asked for the government’s position on Israel’s settlements, but it has said that its relations with Israel would advance peace in the region.