As the European Union adopted guidelines for labeling products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank on Wednesday, farmers in the Jordan Valley region responded with a shrug of their shoulders.
While Pasternak found a new market, it’s not perfect.
“Russia knows we have no other country [to trade with], so they know they can demand lower prices,” he said.
“Also the currency has weakened in Russia.” Hanan Pasternak stands in his pepper greenhouse on November 11, 2015.
Pasternak employs more than 100 Palestinians during the high season.
He exports exclusively to Russia after boycotts picked up strength in the EU.
(Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel) The Jordan Valley, the easternmost part of the West Bank, is home to approximately 7,000 Israelis in 21 settlements and 10,000 Palestinians.Agriculture is the major industry, and there are few other employment opportunities.“Six or seven years ago, 80% of our exports went to Europe,” said Elchaini, the mayor of the regional council.But when labeling initiatives started in Europe about eight years ago to encourage boycotts of the settlements, rather than fight it, farmers just found a new market, he said.Now Europe accounts for about 20% of the exports from the Jordan Valley.The exports that still go to Europe are things with a short shelf life, like fresh herbs.