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Israel and the United States have agreed to a temporary cease-fire agreement to help Israel protect its domestic hemp industry after US District Judge James Boasberg blocked the United State from blocking Israeli imports of the crop.
The United States and Israel signed the temporary cease fire agreement in Washington, DC, on Friday, a US official told Al Jazeera.
The official said the US and Israel had agreed to the cease-fires to avoid an escalation of tensions.
The move comes after Israel launched an investigation into the US government’s alleged role in the illegal importation of hemp into the country.
The probe began last month, according to the State Department.
The US Department said in a statement that it “is reviewing the matter, and is looking into the allegations that the US State Department was involved in facilitating illegal imports of US hemp products into Israel”.
The US State department also said it had begun its own investigation into allegations that Israeli officials were involved in the trade.
“We have taken all steps to cooperate with the Israeli authorities, including seeking the immediate release of the individuals alleged to have been responsible for these violations,” the statement said.
The Hemp Industries Association, a trade association representing American farmers, said it welcomed the US agreement.
“This will give American farmers an immediate opportunity to grow their own hemp,” the group said in an email.
The hemp industry, however, said that while the US deal “provides for an immediate and limited supply of hemp products for Israel, it does not eliminate the US trade barriers that remain.”
“The US has an obligation to protect the United Nations’ international hemp and other crop products standards,” said Ethan Stowell, the Hemp Industries International Association’s chief executive.
“We are pleased that the Trump administration is moving to address the needs of US farmers by putting an end to US import restrictions on Israel’s domestic hemp.”
According to the Hemp Industry Association, Israel is the world’s second largest hemp exporter, with about $1bn worth of hemp exported in 2016.
The Israeli government has argued that the Hemp International Trade Association’s boycott of the US will harm its agricultural industry, and has banned imports of imported hemp products from the US.
The Trump administration said in December that it was halting the ban on imports of cannabis oil, hemp seeds, hemp flour and hemp products.
“While the ban remains in place, the US Department of Agriculture is working to implement a moratorium on US hemp imports that would not impose a direct, significant impact on US farmers,” the White House said in January.
The ban, which was implemented in April, was widely criticised by some American farmers who were not able to purchase their hemp products on the black market.
“Our hemp exports are already suffering a loss due to the current moratorium and the impact of this new administration’s action,” said David McAfee, president of the Hemp Trade Association.
“There are already some farmers who are losing their crops as they are unable to find other farmers willing to buy their hemp.
This moratorium will also negatively impact US farmers as a whole.”US hemp is a non-medicinal crop, but hemp products are used in a wide range of medical applications, including in the manufacture of fibre, insulation and other products.US hemp production has been on the decline since the mid-1980s, due to a combination of rising prices and the rise of biofuels.
The US Hemp Industries Act, signed into law in 1994, prohibited the importation, production and marketing of hemp for medical or scientific purposes, and it banned US hemp from being exported to other countries.
Israel, which has been exporting hemp products to the US since 1999, has been trying to find ways to increase its hemp exports to the west, where demand for hemp products has grown since the introduction of biofuel crops in the late 1990s.
The government said last year that it had started selling hemp products, including hemp seeds and hemp flour, to countries such as Mexico and Uruguay, and was preparing to start importing hemp products in 2019.
The State Department has said it will consider any potential applications of US-made hemp products and will “exercise every resource necessary to ensure that such products are not diverted to the illicit market”.
The Hemp International trade Association said it is hopeful that the State of Israel and its supporters will continue to work with the US to make it easier for American farmers to grow hemp in the US, adding that the agreement “will have an impact on the future of hemp”.
“Hemp is a valuable product for the United Sates, which is a key market for US hemp,” said Michael Greenstein, the president of Hemp International.
“The US government must continue to support this valuable product to ensure it continues to thrive in our country.”