Ukraine war may cause Israeli, Palestinian food shortages

Before the Russian invasion, 60% of Israel’s wheat supply was imported from Ukraine or Russia.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN Richard Mills warned the Security Council on Monday that the continuing war in Ukraine may soon cause food shortages for Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Jerusalem is scrambling to head off potential shortfalls in Israel as well.

Prior to Russia’s invasion, Ukraine provided 10 percent of the world’s wheat. Moreover, 60% of Israel’s wheat was imported from Ukraine or Russia.

“Due to President Putin’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, food insecurity could worsen even further in the coming weeks, both in Gaza and the West Bank as prices of food, fuel and other commodities rise,” Mills told the Security Council.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland echoed Mills’s warning.

“Following the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine, rising prices and market disruptions – which are taking place across the Middle East – threaten food security levels of vulnerable [Palestinian] families,” the Norwegian diplomat said.

Israel’s Kan News reported that Jordan and Israel are mulling a joint regional food stockpile, particularly for wheat.

The idea, which could potentially include the participation of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt, was first proposed by King Abdullah during a visit by Israeli President Isaac Herzog in March.

However, the proposal may be of little help to the Palestinians because the PA lacks adequate storage facilities for wheat flour.

According to Oxfam, a British non-governmental organization, the PA imports 95% of its wheat, “but it owns no food storage infrastructure so is forced to rely instead on the Palestinian private sector and Israel’s facilities.”

Oxfam also cited the World Food Program, which reported that since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the price of wheat flour in the Palestinian Authority has risen 23%, while the cost of animal feed, which is made from wheat bran, has skyrocketed 60%.

In March, the Israeli government ordered that  cargo ships carrying grain and fodder receive priority for unloading.

Ukraine also provides 30% of Israel’s eggs, and officials are looking to Polish and Bulgarian imports. Israeli farmers are still strained by an outbreak of avian flu in November.