Ex-envoy to S. Africa supports settlement boycott

Alon Liel backs that country’s move to label imports coming from "Occupied Palestinian Territories."

Palestinian workers build settlement home in Kedumim 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
Palestinian workers build settlement home in Kedumim 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Nir Elias)
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 wrote.
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 Israel.
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 Israel.
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 organization.
“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,” he said.
Meshoe added that the relabeling is clearly anti-Israel and called on the minister to withdraw or cancel his proposal.
The African 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.