Cii News – 23 August 2012
Israel Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, has attacked the South African government for deciding to support a call to correctly label products emanating from the Occupied Palestinian territories.
Ayalon drew in the recent Lonmin mine tragedy to try and discredit the South African government’s decision on the Israeli labeling issue.
“At the moment South Africa’s apartheid is aimed at Israel, and against miners within South Africa itself.”
“Instead of deciding to label Israeli products, South Africa should have acted courageously towards the 34 innocent miners that were just asking for an improvement in working conditions.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry also released a statement, saying South Africa’s decision “brings to mind ideas of a racist nature which the government of South Africa, more than any other, should have wholly rejected.”
“The measure announced today [Wednesday] by the South African cabinet to require special labeling for goods emanating from Israeli settlements is without precedent, as no such measure has ever been adopted in South Africa or in any other country: it constitutes therefore a blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction,” the Foreign Ministry said.
“Israel and South Africa have political differences, and that is legitimate,” the ministry added. “What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott. Such exclusion and discrimination bring to mind ideas of racist nature which the government of South Africa, more than any other, should have wholly rejected.”
It is understood that the South African ambassador to Israel has also been called in for discussions on the decision. This is not the first time that Ismail Coovadia has had to face the wrath of the Israelis over the matter. In May this year he was summoned prompting the Department of Trade and Industry minister, Rob Davies, to say that his department was neither calling for a boycott Israeli goods nor to prevent the entry of such products into South Africa.
The official notice was “to require traders in South Africa not to incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.”
Davies said that Pretoria recognised the State of Israel “only within the borders demarcated by the United Nations (UN) in 1948” and that these borders do not include territories occupied by Israel after 1967.
Yesterday the South African cabinet approved the plan to ban “Made in Israel” labels on products from illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Instead, such imports are to be labeled as coming from the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.”
Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi again emphasised that South Africa recognises the borders delineated by the United Nations and does not recognise occupied territories beyond these borders as being part of the state of Israel.
The campaign has been spearheaded in South Africa by the Open Shuhada Street organisation in 2008.
Bruce Baigerie, the group’s spokesperson said the South African cabinet decision was a welcomed one. “It’s fantastic news for us. The campaign has been going on since 2008 and for it to end like this makes us feel very happy.”
Tags: Israel, relabel, South Africa