Palestine Becomes Olive Council's Newest Member

Palestine, a land where olives have been cultivated for thousands of years, signs the 2015 International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives, becoming the IOC's newest member.

Apr. 20, 2017
By Isabel Putinja

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Palestine was added as a mem­ber of the International Olive Council (IOC) on April 9, 2017, bring­ing the total num­ber of IOC mem­bers to 14 (the European Union is counted as one mem­ber).

The State of Palestine became a mem­ber of the IOC (a United Nations orga­ni­za­tion) fol­low­ing its rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the 2015 International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives.

To com­mem­o­rate the event, Abdellatif Ghedira, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the IOC, wel­comed Musa Amer Odeh, the ambas­sador of Palestine to Spain to IOC head­quar­ters with other IOC staff and ambas­sadors and diplo­mats from Oman, Tunisia, Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, and the Arab League.

Ambassador Odeh thanked IOC staff for the wel­come and reminded those present of the olive tree’s sig­nif­i­cance as a uni­ver­sal sym­bol of peace. The occa­sion was marked by the hoist­ing of the Palestinian flag at IOC head­quar­ters next to the flags of the other IOC mem­ber coun­tries.

Palestine had been seek­ing mem­ber­ship to the IOC since 2013 when its appli­ca­tion was blocked by Germany and the United Kingdom because of con­cerns that it could dis­rupt Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Under the con­di­tions of the talks, Palestine was asked to not join any UN orga­ni­za­tions or address the International Criminal Court in The Hague in exchange for Israel’s release of Palestinian pris­on­ers.

Olives have been cul­ti­vated in Palestine for thou­sands of years and are a major agri­cul­tural crop. Palestinian olive farm­ers have faced dif­fi­cult chal­lenges in zones under Israeli mil­i­tary con­trol, like the require­ment of per­mits to har­vest their olives, while thou­sands of olive trees and saplings in the West Bank have been uprooted and dam­aged by Israeli set­tlers.

According to IOC fig­ures, 24,500 tons of olive oil were pro­duced in Palestine dur­ing the 2014/15 crop year, with 6,500 tons exported to other coun­tries.

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