Dairy products
Dairy productsIsrael news photo: Flash 90

South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies has rejected “with utter contempt” suggestions that there were racial motivations for his move to prohibit Israeli goods produced in Judea and Samaria from being sold under the label “Made in Israel.”

Davies was adamant that his department was neither seeking to promote a boycott of Israeli goods nor to prevent the entry of such products into South Africa. He 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 Independent Online reported.

The move would force traders to re-label certain Israeli products to say that they originated in “occupied territory,” rather than to read “Made in Israel” or “Product of Israel.”

“I was asked by an Israeli television station yesterday whether I was an anti-Semite. I was accused of being a left-leaning Jew,” Davies said. “It has given rise to all sorts of labels, which I reject with utter contempt.”

“But it is also the case that we do not support the effective occupation of the territory outside of the 1967 borders, and there may be consumers in SA who would want to exercise their consumer rights, as they have the right to do, and will have to be guided by accurate labeling.” he stated.

Davies said his department had put out for comment the intention to issue a notice, under Section 26 of the Consumer Protection Act, which would require traders in SA not to incorrectly label products.

“We are not that different from many other countries in the international community, even the EU, where our recognition of Israel is the 1967 borders of Israel, and there is a distinction between products which come from within those borders and products which come from territories outside, notably the West Bank, which were territories which fell under Israeli control after that date” he said.

“We are giving people an opportunity to comment on this. But there is an argument we could have gone straight ahead and done it without opening it up to any consultation,” he continued.

“Within the Middle East it is somewhere in the middle… This is not a measure which, from the government’s point of view, is intended to be a boycott of products coming even from occupied territories and certainly not intended to be a boycott of Israel,” he claimed.

“It would be unfortunate if it was the case.”