Fruit seller accuses Dáil of ‘political posturing’ on imports Bill

Dublin businessman Justin Leonard says he chooses not to support Israeli goods

Wholesaler Justin Leonard: ‘You would be very hard pushed to actually find Israeli products in the fruit and veg market here.’ File photograph: Enda O’Dowd

Wholesaler Justin Leonard: ‘You would be very hard pushed to actually find Israeli products in the fruit and veg market here.’ File photograph: Enda O’Dowd

 

Customers at Dublin’s Smithfield fruit and vegetable market, would be “very hard pushed” to find produce imported from Israel, according to Justin Leonard, who owns Leonard’s wholesalers.

Mr Leonard (50) has been working in the old Dublin City Council market since 1986, and the family business is 125 years old.

“As a personal choice I don’t support Israeli goods, you would be very hard pushed to actually find Israeli products in the fruit and veg market here,” he said.

On Thursday, the Dáil passed a Bill on to committee stage, which would prohibit the sale of imported goods from the occupied territories in Palestine.

The legislation working its way through the Oireachtas was “political posturing”, given little fruit or veg was imported from Israeli settlements, Mr Leonard said.

Mr Leonard said “by and large” most fruit and vegetable wholesalers in the Dublin market do not import from Israel. “In the last few years I’ve really consciously made sure not to buy from Israel,” he said.

One of Israel’s main exports are fruit and vegetables, such as grapes, oranges, dates, herbs, avocados, peppers and potatoes, many of which come from the settlements in Palestine.

More than half of the world’s medjool dates are supplied by Israel, and the majority of these come from an occupied part of the Jordan valley, where farmers say they have been forced off their land by settlers.

However, there is continuing confusion over the origin of many products from the region. Only a handful of goods sold in Ireland can be readily identified as coming from the settlements covered by the proposed ban. Many others – notably fruits and vegetables – might be grown in an affected area before being shipped to Israel for packaging and distribution before being marketed as “produce of Israel”.

Almost three years ago the European Union published guidelines for labelling products made in Israeli settlements. These state that farm produce and other goods from the settlements, which are illegal under international law, should be labelled if they are sold in the EU. Critics say the rules are too easy to circumvent.