Anti-Israel protestors in South Africa 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)
The South African Trade Ministry has agreed to tone down a proposal to label Israeli products made in West Bank settlements and east Jerusalem as "goods originating from the Israeli Occupied Territories," Jewish groups in the country announced Wednesday.
The SA Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) and SA Zionist Federation (SAZF) welcomed the change in the legislation to refer to the products instead as either “West Bank: Israeli Goods” or “East Jerusalem: Israeli Goods.”
"This fully complies with internationally recognized technical trade requirements pertaining to place of origin. Unlike earlier proposed versions of the legislation, it does not make use of politically charged and biased language, but rather uses terms that are essentially neutral and descriptive," the SAJBD said in a statement.
The plan not to label settlement products as "Made in Israel" was first made public in May and was approved by South Africa's cabinet in August.
The cabinet issued a statement at the time saying it "approved that a notice in terms of the Consumer Protection Act, 2008 be issued by the Minister of Trade and Industry requiring the labeling of goods or products emanating from IOTs (Israel Occupied Territories) to prevent consumers being led to believe that such goods come from Israel. This is in line with South Africa’s stance that recognizes the 1948 borders delineated by the United Nations and does not recognize occupied territories beyond these borders as being part of the state of Israel."
On Wednesday, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and SA Zionist Federation thanked the country's Presidency, cabinet and Trade Ministry "for hearing and taking into account our concerns when finalizing the new regulations."
The organizations referred to the compromise as "a balanced, sensible solution, one that addresses the requirement that the places of origin of imported products be accurately identified without the addition of politically-motivated aspects that can only cause division and alienation within the South African population.
The original labeling plan had sparked outrage in Israel
and among South African Jewish groups. Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem had said that the original labels proposal amounted to nothing less than a South African call for a boycott of Israel.Herb Keinon contributed to this report.