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South Africa to ban labeling West Bank settlement products as 'made in Israel'

2643 Views 13 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Enabulele
PRETORIA – South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry is preparing a policy change mandating that products originating from West Bank settlements not be labeled as Israeli products.

In a statement published last week in the governmental gazette, Trade Minister Rob Davies declared that consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating from the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” originate from Israel.

The minister specified in his note some “misleading labeled products” as “Ahava products, and other cosmetic brands, technology and soft drinks.”

Israel reacted furiously to the South African announcement, which the Foreign Ministry said was the first of its kind in the world. Spokesman Paul Hirschson said the ministry would call in the South African ambassador to protest the move.

“The singling out of one side of one conflict out of all the conflicts in the world is verging on racism,” he said, adding that “this is sad coming from South Africa, which should know better.”

Open Shuhada Street, a Palestinian international organization focusing on the issue of “rules of origin,” has been campaigning in South Africa for several months against products manufactured by Israelis in the West Bank. It has been threatening legal action whose goal would be to require the South African government to declare the labeling of these products as “illegal” and “consumer misleading.”

The Palestinian lobby group specifically targets Dead Sea beauty products made in Mitzpe Shalem.

In a joint statement, Palestinian lobby groups in South Africa called the decision taken by Davies as “significant,” adding that it would “render Israeli trade with South Africa far more difficult and is a serious setback for Israeli companies wanting to do business in South Africa.”

The Israeli Embassy in Pretoria criticized the proposal on Saturday, saying, “We regret the decision to adopt this notice, which carries an unpleasant scent of singling out Israel on a national and on a political basis.”

The embassy added that it was investigating the implications of this decision vis-à-vis the relevant authorities. The bilateral trade between the two countries surpasses $1 billion annually.

Ben Swartz, the spokesman of the South African Zionist Federation, said the Jewish community in South Africa was deeply concerned about the proposal. Swartz said that the content of the notice is “highly political and politicized, and has been prepared without proper public debate and discussion.”

He added that he did not believe that this proposal reflected the policy of all governing parties in South Africa, nor of the African National Congress as a whole. -
Herb Keinon contributed to this report
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This seems to have caught the Israelis offguard, they pissed off as hell. Perhaps this is SA's response to the pressure US is putting on it by threatening sanctions if it does not stop importing Iranian oil by June.
Anyways its all very interesting.

Israel has attacked a legal move by South Africa that would force merchants to provide a special label for goods made in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, slamming what it said was a decision with “racist characteristics”.

The harsh condemnation, issued by the Israeli foreign ministry, came in response to a “notice” from South Africa’s Department of Trade this month, saying it intends to require traders not to “incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory”. The proposal gives consumers 60 days to comment on the issue. Should it be confirmed, the Israelis say it would be the first regulation imposing a separate label of origin for settlement goods made in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Singling out one country and stigmatising its products is a move with racist characteristics. We regret that it is South Africa of all countries that is the first to go down this slippery slope,” a spokesman for Israel’s foreign ministry said on Sunday. He argued the proposal – with its reference to “1948 borders” – left unclear what areas precisely would be affected by the new labelling rule, claiming that it would “stain all Israeli products”.

“This will stamp, name and shame Israeli products on an uncertain basis,” the spokesman said.

Macdonald Netshitenzhe, a senior official at South Africa’s trade and industry department, said the decision was not political, but was in line with South Africa’s trade and consumer laws. “Our consumer protection act, as well as our trade law, says you must not mislead the consumer. If it’s a wine of the Cape, you don’t say it’s a Bordeaux … that is the principle,” he said. “South Africa recognises Israel only to [the] extent of the 1948 borders ... The occupation of 1967 and thereafter, we don’t recognise that.”
The South African measure, if confirmed, would mark an important victory for the growing international campaign against settlement products. Pro-Palestinian activists in the US and Europe have long called for a boycott of goods and produce from West Bank settlements, in an attempt to raise both the economic and political price of the Israeli occupation. The campaign has also resonated in the West Bank itself, where the Palestinian Authority has sought to crack down on the sale of settlement goods.

The settlements, home to a fast-growing population of more than 500,000, are seen as a key obstacle to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as they take up an increasing share of the land on which the Palestinians hope to establish an independent state. They are also illegal under international law, which prohibits the establishment of settlements on occupied land.

South Africa is not among Israel’s most important trading partners, which means the economic impact of a new labelling regime is likely to be limited. A deeper concern for Israel is that the example set by Pretoria will inspire others to follow suit, especially in Europe. The latest warning on this front came from Denmark, where the foreign minister appealed for a new Israeli labelling regime in an interview on Friday.

Villy Søvndal told the Politiken newspaper: “This is a step that will clearly show consumers that these goods have been produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also the European governments, have said no to.”

Israel’s foreign ministry gave a cautious response to the Danish comments, pointing out that they appeared to reflect the minister’s personal opinion and not government policy
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Denmark has indicated that it will also be following in SA's footsteps.
Good on SA for doing the right thing this time....

Good news the apartheid cannot be hidden in israel
Denmark has indicated that it will also be following in SA's footsteps.
Good on SA for doing the right thing this time....
South Africa -1
U.S.A -0
Nice move...South Africans know all too well the injustice they suffered to support the Israeli Apartheid. The rest of the Int'l community should follow in SA's footsteps
I thought the eu was already doing the same. Israel is finding itself more and more diplomatically isolated.
I'm gld that South Africa is doing this, as well as Denmark. If anyone should know better it's Israel
great move in leadership by SA. I like how the country sticks by it's very strong values no matter what.
About time. the israeli bullying and exploitation of Palestine must be stopped.
I concur with Popa, I thought other countries in Europe already do this? None the less well done to SA.
The Danish government are doing the same thing as well. Perhaps a good move... :dunno:
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