Friday, August 19, 2011
Lulav imports from Egypt in danger?
Following Mubarak's downfall, Israel fears for annual import of 700,000 palm branches for Sukkot holiday
Every year for the past three decades, ahead of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, Israel imports from Egypt some 700,000 lulavim (one of the Four Species mentioned in the Torah), originating in palm trees in the northern Sinai city of El Arish.
This year could see a shortage in the palm branches, however, as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's downfall has created uncertainty in regards to the deal.
According to Foreign Ministry officials, the lulav sale issue is raised every single year, but so far things have always worked themselves out. "Business is business," one of them said.
But state officials have no intention of waiting for the holiday, which takes place in October, and Agriculture Minister Orit Noked has already sent a letter to her Egyptian counterpart.
"I would like to draw your attention to this urgent issue, which relates to a long tradition of buying palm branches from the El Arish area for large parts of the Israeli society before the High Holidays," the minister wrote.
She added, "We are well aware of and appreciate the efforts made by Egypt to keep Sinai clean of pests and diseases which harm the palm branches.
Noked asked to schedule a meeting with the Egyptian officials in charge of the issue in order to continue the import of lulavim.
"The agricultural cooperation between the two countries, as we see in this case, serves as an excellent platform for deepening the relations and strengthening the understanding and friendship between our two nations," she concluded.