In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, plying one's wares can be a troublesome affair at the best of times.
In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, plying one's wares can be a troublesome affair at the best of times. Since the 1967 War, those trying to earn a living through trade with either Israel Proper or Jordan are finding the going difficult because of various restrictions from the two countries. But for the farmers comes another blow. King Hussein of Jordan has ordered that farmers wishing to export produce to Arab states through his country must now apply for a special permit by personally making a trip to the Jordanian capital, Amman.
SYNOPSIS: For West Bank merchants and farmers, going to market isn't fun. It often means an obstacle course of special papers and permits. Getting to Jordan means enduring time consuming driving to the Allenby Bridge, one of the few cross-over points in existence between Israel and her Arab neighbours.
The delays are caused by the intensive checking carried out by Israeli military police for suspected terrorists. Once over the bridge its' usually an incident free drive to market. But for the farmers of the West Bank it's just half the problem. Now they'll need to be in possession of another permit, which can only be given after presenting themselves personally in Amman. The permit is a way for King Hussein to exercise some kind of control over the West Bank population. Without the pass farmers will no longer be able to take advantage of the growing Arab market. So while trucks cross the Allenby bridge carrying marble, plastic containers and salt, very few trucks are crossing with agricultural produce.
Farmers and West Bank officials-angry at this latest restriction-have been meeting with officials from the Arab Chamber of Commerce in East Jerusalem in an effort to erase the red tape. The importance of trading with Jordan can be seen in the other Israeli-occupied territory, the Gaza Strip, where more than 70 per cent of this year's citrus crop went to Jordan.