Too hot to handleToo hot to handle

Israeli potatoes have Kuwaitis boiling

Growing alarm in Gulf state at reported appearance of produce from the Jewish state

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Israeli potatoes in Jerusalem, March 2007 (photo credit: Orel Cohen/Flash90)
Israeli potatoes in Jerusalem, March 2007 (photo credit: Orel Cohen/Flash90)

Someone in Kuwait may be in hot water if reports that Israeli potatoes are being sold in the state are found to be true.

Furious officials from the Consumer Protection Society are searching high and low among the country’s cooperative society stores for any sign of the offensive vegetables, the Gulf News said on Sunday, citing a report from the al-Kuwaitiya daily newspaper.

The cooperatives, and in particular the al-Nasseem Cooperative, have been accused of selling potatoes in bags marked as coming from Israel, an accusation that the Cooperative Societies Union hotly denies.

“We do deplore the allegations by some people and the accusations they leveled at the al-Nassem Cooperative claiming that it was selling potatoes in bags with an Israeli label,” said the head of the CSU Abdul Aziz al-Samhan.

Likewise, the customs authority asserted that it has not allowed any Israeli produce into the country and that the potatoes come from Jordan, but the rumors have gained momentum on the Internet, the report said.

The deputy head of the Consumer Protection Society, Khalid al-Subai, said he had no doubts that the rumors are true. He made it clear he intended to unearth those responsible.

“The product has been spotted in several places and I would like to know how those in charge of monitoring the import of foreign products allowed it into the country,” al-Subai said, noting that the ministry has a “zero tolerance” policy towards Israeli products.

Kuwait has no diplomatic or trade ties with Israel; since 1964, all Israeli products have been boycotted and prohibited for sale in the country. On Sunday, the Kuwaiti delegation left an international conference in Abu Dhabi because of the presence of an Israeli delegation led by Energy Minister Silvan Shalom.

Samhan suggested that any labels found on the bags were put there either as a prank, or as a deliberate attack on the al-Nasseem Cooperative. Indicating that products labeled as coming from Israel were hardly likely to sell like hot potatoes, Samhan vowed to find out who was behind the tater caper.

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