South African parliamentarians blocked Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies’s
bill requiring settlement products to be labeled as originating from “occupied
Palestinian territory,” marking a “great victory,” South African MP Reverend
Kenneth Meshoe said in Jerusalem Tuesday.
Meshoe, president of the
African Christian Democratic Party, along with 24 other parliamentarians from 17
nations, are in Jerusalem for the International Israel Allies Caucus Foundation’s
conference of pro-Israel members of national legislatures around the
The parliamentarians will also attend the International Christian
Embassy’s annual Feast of Tabernacles, which brought 5,000 Christians to Israel
According to Meshoe, the Parliamentary Trade and Industry
Committee recently rejected the legislation, making it difficult and unlikely
for Davies to be able to push the policy again.
The committee’s rejection
of the measure followed South African Zionist Federation chairman Avrom
Krengel’s appeal to MPs. Krengel filed papers with the South African High Court
in July asking to overturn the minister’s decision on grounds of
The MP, who helped organize an anti-labeling
demonstration in Pretoria in June, pointed to three flaws in the proposal.
“First, the policy is based on allegations from a pro-Palestinian
It is wrong and improper to make laws based only on
allegations – this law even said ‘it has been alleged,’” Meshoe
The second legal problem, Meshoe said, is that it is based on
the South African Consumer Protection Act, which states that products must be
labeled with the country in which they were manufactured.
minister’s notice, it said goods should be labeled as coming from ‘occupied
Palestinian territories.’ That is not in line with the law, because it is not a
country,” he added.
Finally, Meshoe called Davies’ policy discriminatory,
because it only targets Israel.
The MP also criticized those who call
Israel an apartheid state, saying that doing so minimizes the pain of those who
suffered under the racially segregated regime. “If Israel is an apartheid state
like South Africa was, then apartheid would not have been so painful,” Meshoe
“In short,” he added, “the comparison is
nonsense. There is nothing to it. When people see Israel themselves, they
“I have seen Israelis and Palestinians living together,”
Meshoe said. “They use the same public transportation and go to the same stores,
schools and beaches. It was not like that in apartheid South Africa – stores had
separate doors for blacks and whites.”
As someone who suffered from the
injustices of apartheid, Meshoe stated, he does not see how the situation in
Israel is comparable. “People just want to raise emotions, because everyone
hates apartheid. The word ‘apartheid’ gets attention,” he explained.