Africa / Middle East

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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