Israel Outraged as South Africa Decides to Label Yesha Products
The South African government announced on Wednesday that it has instructed that products made in Judea and Samaria not be labeled as products of Israel.
According to a report on Kol Yisrael radio, South Africa’s Trade Minister will direct importers to label every product that came from one of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria with a special mark that indicates that it was not made in Israel.
A spokesman for the Trade Ministry, who made the announcement about the decision, said that the position of the government of South Africa is that it recognizes the borders of Israel as they were outlined by the United Nations in 1948, and does not recognize any changes made to the borders after that date.
He added that any area beyond these boundaries is not considered by his country to be part of Israel.
In May, South African Minister Rob Davies issued an announcement warning merchants “not to incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.”
He later rejected “with utter contempt” suggestions that there were racial motivations for his move, saying his department was neither seeking to promote a boycott of Israeli goods nor to prevent the entry of such products into South Africa.
Davies asserted, however, that the move was aimed at ensuring that products were correctly labeled so that South African consumers could decide for themselves as to whether they wanted to purchase them.
The move was met with anger both by Israel, which summoned the South African ambassador for clarifications, as well as by the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), which staged a rally in Pretoria against the decision.
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, condemned Wednesday’s decision and said, “Unfortunately it turns out that the changes in South Africa over the years did not bring about any fundamental changes.”
Ayalon added that South Africa “remains an apartheid state,” which is now turning its discrimination against Israel.
The Foreign Ministry condemned the move in a statement, saying it is “unprecedented. Never has a similar regulation been applied in South Africa or any other country. It is blatant discrimination on the basis of national and political distinction.”
The Foreign Ministry added, “Such discrimination is not customary - and rightly so - in any other case of national, territorial or ethnic conflict. Israel and South Africa have political differences and this is legitimate. What is unacceptable, however, is the use of tools that are discriminatory by nature, and encouraging a boycott. Segregation and discrimination of this nature are reminiscent of racist ideas which the South African government, more than anyone, should reject.”
The latest move came just a week after South Africa's deputy foreign minister “discouraged" citizens from visiting Israel.
“Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it is not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel,” Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, told the City Press newspaper. “We discourage people from going there except if it has to do with the peace process.”
Ebrahim said that South African should “scale down” economic ties with Israel, but claimed that he was not advocating a full breakdown of relations between the countries.