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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February, 2005, 19:48 GMT
Syria to import Golan apples
An Israeli army post at Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights
Israel has occupied the Golan Heights since 1967
Syria has announced that it will buy 10,000 tons of apples from Arab farmers in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

It is the first time Syria has traded with Israeli-controlled territory. It usually observes an Arab League boycott of the Jewish state.

The decision came after farmers in the region had repeatedly called on the government to buy their produce, the Syrian foreign ministry said.

The ministry indicated that this would be a one-off transaction.

Explaining the decision, the ministry said in a statement that the apples were being imported "due to the harsh economic conditions which our brothers in the occupied Golan Heights are suffering from".

The apples were "grown on Syrian land and owned by Syrians," the statement said.


The import will take place under the supervision of the United Nations peacekeeping forces that monitor the frontier defined by the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.

About 20,000 Syrians live in the Golan Heights, many of them members of the Druze sect.

Israel occupied the territory during the 1967 Six Day War then annexed it 1981, although this was not internationally recognised.

Negotiations between Israel and Syria broke down in 2000 over control of the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Syria indicated it wanted to resume negotiations in December last year.

Israel responded by saying it would not revive peace talks with Syria as long as Palestinian militant groups operated in Damascus.

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