Irrigation systems - from Israel to Iran (archives)
Photo: Hanania Herman, GPO
Pistacio - from Iran to Israel
Photo: Tzvika Tishler
Iranian money appears to be stronger than the Iranian threat, as dozens of Israeli companies have been holding secret trade relations with the Islamic Republic in recent years.
Although the ties have been slightly limited in the past decade following Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls for Israel's destruction, trade between the two countries continues.
The business relations are conducted through companies active in Turkey, Jordan and Dubai, which are registered in Europe and exposed to an American boycott.
Tehran's Trade Ministry fights off exporter's claims that Islamic Republic is importing apples, oranges from Israel
"Despite what is seen on the ground, the secret relations with Iran total tens of millions of dollars a year," says Yehoshua Meiri, chairman of the Israeli-Arab Friendship Association, which encourages the development of economic relations as an alternative to a peace process.
"Even when harsh statements are made on both sides, business thrives," says Hemeiri. "Relations with the Iranian colleagues are excellent, and political statements are ignored.
"It's safe to say that the commerce could be extended. The past year has even seen relations which include consultation services on engineering and construction of food factories."
Iranian official visits Tel Aviv
Israeli exports to Iran focus on agricultural production means: Organic fertilizers, pierced irrigation pipes, hormones boosting milk productions and seeds.
The Iranians sell the Israelis pistachio, cashew nuts and mainly marble – one of Iran's biggest industries.
"A lot of marble is brought in from Iran," says Eran Siv, chairman of the Association of Renovation Contractors in Israel and a marble importer. "The marble, which is very popular in Israel, is mined on Iran's mountains and brought to Israel through Turkey."
Siv opposes these trade ties. "The Iranians personally offered to sell me hundreds of tons of marble products which would be transferred to Turkey and polished there for a cheap price, but I refused. I tried to get the importers to launch a consumers' boycott on Iran, but failed."
Another field the Iranians are obviously interested in is security. In a recent exhibition, Iranian representatives even tried to enter the Israeli booth, which was presenting defensive measures against accidents in nuclear reactors. Haim Siboni, a representative of the Israeli company, noticed their suspicious accent and ordered them to leave.
In November 2000, the Iranian government asked an Israeli company, which built Tehran's sewage pipes 30 years earlier, to visit the country for renovations.
Shortly afterwards, the assistant director-general of Iran's Ministry of Agriculture visited Israel secretly and stayed at the Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel. He expressed an interest in purchasing irrigation pipes, pesticides and fertilizers.
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