A proposal in South Africa to ban products from the West Bank received a boost
this week from an unlikely source – former Foreign Ministry director-general and
ex-ambassador to South Africa, Alon Liel.
Writing in the South African
Business Day newspaper, Liel endorsed the plan to ban “made in Israel” labels
for imported products from the West Bank.
“I can understand the desire,
by people of conscience, to reassert an agenda of justice, to remind Israelis
that Palestinians exist. I can understand small but symbolic acts of protest
that hold a mirror up to Israeli society. As such, I cannot condemn the move to
prevent goods made in the occupied Palestinian territory from being falsely
classified as ‘made in Israel.’ I support the South African government’s
insistence on this distinction between Israel and its occupation,” Liel
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies made the proposal a few
weeks ago to relabel imports from Israel originating in the West Bank as having
been produced in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” rather than
Liel, who was ambassador to South Africa from 1992 to 1994,
added, “I buy Israeli products everyday and do my best not to buy Israeli
products from the occupied territories.”
As reported in The Jerusalem
Post on Tuesday, The South African opposition African Christian Democratic Party
is organizing two marches this week – one on Thursday in Pretoria and another
Friday in Cape Town – to protest against the government’s latest moves against
Party leader Rev. Kenneth Meshoe, who initiated the marches, said
that the relabeling proposal issued by Davies is flawed and an anti-Israel
lobbying group had pushed for the measure.
“The proposal refers to
‘Occupied Palestinian Territories,’ but this is not a state,” Meshoe said. “The
consumer act demands that such a notice will include the name of the state to
which it refers. There is no recognized country here, so the notice
cannot be applied.”
Meshoe also said the notice was promoted on the basis
of unproven allegations made by the pro-Palestinian Open Shuhada Street
“This group is also calling for a boycott of Israel. We are
calling on our government not to act in the name of the agenda of this group,”
Meshoe added that the relabeling is clearly anti-Israel and
called on the minister to withdraw or cancel his proposal.
Christian party chose to march this week in front of the Trade Ministry in
Pretoria rather than submit an objection to the proposal because, Meshoe
explained, a march in the street has proven to be much more effective in sending
out the message.
“It’s a sort of submission which the government cannot
ignore,” Meshoe said.