Israel’s foreign ministry on Thursday summoned South Africa’s envoy to formally protest Pretoria’s decision to place “Occupied Palestinian Territory” labels on goods from Jewish settlements.
Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said ambassador Ismail Coovadia was summoned to the ministry in Jerusalem where “we made a formal protest and discussed the issue in depth.”
The South African cabinet on Wednesday directed its trade minister to issue a notice requiring that such products are marked to inform consumers that the origin is not Israel.
“This is in line with South Africa’s stance that recognises the 1948 borders delineated by the United Nations and does not recognise occupied territories beyond these borders as being part of the state of Israel,” said government spokesman Jimmy Manyi.
Israel slammed the move, with Palmor on Wednesday blasting it as “blatant discrimination based on national and political distinctions.”
“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,” he said.
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon charged the move was proof South Africa was still an apartheid state.
“South Africa’s apartheid is currently directed at Israel and miners in South Africa itself,” he wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.
“Instead of making decisions on marking Israeli products, the South African government would do better to reach brave decisions about the 34 innocent miners who merely wanted an improvement in their condition.”
South African police last week gunned down 34 miners during a wildcat strike at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine that had already left eight other workers and two policemen dead.
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday praised the decision to label settlement-made goods, and pledged to help the campaign.
“South Africa is making a good effort for us,” deputy foreign minister Abdul Hafiz Nofal told AFP.
Nofal said his office was familiar with the local Israeli market, and warned that if a product was purposely mislabelled, the Palestinian Authority would seek to inform the South Africans in a move which would result in “a large fine.”