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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