The ban had been the result of an Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture decision to forbid the cutting of fronds from date trees at el-Arish in the Sinai in order to protect them from damage.This seems pretty ridiculous. Removing many branches from a palm tree may be detrimental, but removing one or two fronds should not harm the tree. We've been celebrating this holiday for thousands of years and I don't remember hearing such claims. Yated Ne'eman as quoted by Arutz 7 gives a different reason:
The Israeli market demands some 500,000 kosher lulavim a year for the Sukkot holiday, and the vast majority of this number are imported from Egypt. This year, however, one importer - Avi Balali of Segulah, north of Kiryat Gat - has managed to convince Egypt to drastically reduce the amount of lulavim it exports, and to allow him exclusive rights on that limited amount.If this report is not true, Yated owes Mr. Balali an apology. If it is true, unscrupulous is too kind a word for this man.
A report in the Hebrew weekly Yated Ne'eman alleges that Balali, a non-observant Jew, bribed Egyptian officials to this end.