PRETORIA – Israel’s ambassador to Pretoria met in the city Thursday morning with officials at the South African International Relations Department.

Ambassador Dov Segev-Steinberg conveyed to his counterparts Israel’s official reaction to the South African trade minister’s proposal to ban the labeling of products from the West Bank as “made in Israel.”

The ambassador said Israel fears this will affect the bilateral relations between the two countries. According to Segev-Steinberg, the proposal constitutes a harsh discrimination which singles out Israel. Furthermore, it stands in contradiction to the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

A spokesman of the South African International Relations Department told The Jerusalem Post that the meeting today with ambassador Segev-Steinberg was a private meeting; hence the ministry will not comment on it. He said that they will engage in further discussions with the ambassador in a private and confidential manner.

A large pro-Israel demonstration took place in Pretoria – near the office of Trade Minister Rob Davies – at the same time as the meeting.

Over the last few months several incidents have clouded the relations between the two countries, including an anti-Israeli speech by the deputy minister of foreign affairs some two weeks ago. In addition, the South African agriculture minister canceled his trip to Israel for the Agri-tech exhibition last month.

Officials within the Jewish community told the Post that the demonstration today highlights the fact that even though the bilateral relations seem grim at the moment, Israel still has many friends with in the South African people, friends who have decided to voice their concern in light of these events.

The African Christian Democratic Party, who organized today’s march, have planned another pro-Israel gathering for Friday outside Parliament in Cape Town.

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