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Kuwait launches probe into allegations over Israeli potatoes

Cooperatives union head denies claims, pledges to identify those behind malicious act

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Caption: Picture being circualted on the Net of the "Israeli" products, label
Gulf News

Manama: Kuwait’s commerce ministry has launched an investigation into reports that Israeli potatoes were being sold in cooperative societies.

“The ministry is currently coordinating with several parties to reach a conclusion about the allegations and ensure that they are not malicious,” ministry sources told local daily Al Kuwaitiya.

“The ministry has a zero-tolerance policy towards the import and sale of Israeli products and if there are Israeli potatoes in the stores, there will be stringent action against those involved,” the sources said.

Kuwait, like most Arab countries, has no diplomatic or commercial relations with Israel and has rigorously implemented a 1964 law that banned the possession and trade of all Israeli products. Reports on the existence of Israeli products in the Kuwaiti market have been widely circulated in the virtual world even though they conflicted in the real world.

Khalid Al Subai, the deputy head of the Consumer Protection Society, was quoted by the Kuwaiti daily as saying that Israeli potatoes had been sold in several cooperative societies and that he held the commerce and industry ministry and the country’s customs 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,” he said.

However, Abdul Aziz Al Samhan, the head of the Cooperative Societies Union, has denied the existence of any Israeli products in Kuwait’s cooperatives. “This is definitely a red line that no one is allowed to cross under any name,” he said in a statement.

“We do deplore the allegations by some people and the accusations they levelled at Al Nassem Cooperative claiming that it was selling potatoes in bags with an Israeli label,” he said.

The Customs have denied the claims about the sale of Israeli products in Kuwait and insisted that the potatoes being sold in cooperatives were from Jordan, he added.

Al Samhan called for an end to the “electoral manoeuvres” and “the fabrication of unsubstantiated accusations, slander and falsehoods.”

“We in the Union do know that putting a false label on the product bags is an indication of bankruptcy or a way of having fun at the expense of others. Such acts have unfortunately sparked an online debate and raised questions about the authenticity of the news,” he said.

For Al Samhan, placing an Israeli label on the product does not make sense at all.

“Will selling Israeli products increase sales? We will not tolerate this fabrication and there will be serious questioning. We will find out who is behind this attack on Al Naseem Cooperative, especially that we know that it has a clean record,” he said.

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