Israel protests SA label decision

2012-08-23 11:43

Jerusalem – South Africa’s ambassador to Israel was summoned to that nation’s foreign ministry today to explain a recent decision by the South African Cabinet to label products from settlements in the West Bank as coming from “Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

Ambassador Ismail Coovadia would meet with the head of the ministry’s Africa Desk, a foreign ministry spokesperson said.

The decision, taken yesterday, by the South African government came three months after trade and industry Minister Rob Davies first raised the idea of affixing such labels on goods from the West Bank.

Yesterday, a statement from the Israeli foreign ministry slammed the South African decision, calling it “blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction”.

“This kind of discrimination has not been imposed – and rightly so – in any other case of national, territorial or ethnic conflict,” the statement said.

“What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott,” it added.

South Africa is the first nation to specifically demand that goods manufactured in Israeli settlements bear a specific “Occupied Palestinian Territory” label.

However, since 2003, the European Union has demanded that Israeli exporters specify on their export invoices where their products are made, to prevent those made in Israeli West Bank settlements from enjoying the duty-free status given to items originating in Israel.

The spat over settlement labels is the latest example of the increasingly strained ties between Israel and South Africa.

South Africa’s deputy international relations and cooperation minister Ebrahim Ebrahim, raised Israeli hackles last week, when he recommended South Africans refrain from visiting the Jewish state.

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