FM lodges protest with S. African envoy over labels

PA welcomes decision to mandate labels on products originating beyond Green Line, pushes EU to ban settlement products.

Lieberman 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Lieberman 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Foreign Ministry on Thursday lodged an official protest with South Africa over its decision Wednesday to order that products from settlements be labeled in a special manner and not carry a “Made in Israel” tag.
A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said that the ambassador, Ismail Coovadia, met with Avi Granot, deputy director-general of the ministry’s Africa division, who expressed Israel’s objections to the decision. The spokeswoman said the message would be relayed to Pretoria.
The Palestinian Authority, however, welcomed South Africa’s decision. PA officials urged all European Union countries to follow suit and impose similar restrictions on settler products. The PA also called on the EU to ban imports of settlement products.
Abdel Hafiz Nofal, a senior official with the PA Economic Ministry, pointed out that South Africa was not banning settler products, but only labeling them with a special tag so that those who wish to boycott would be able to do so.
Nofal said that if Israel chooses to forge the labels to avoid exposing the source of the products, this would create a political crisis with South Africa. He added that the PA has thanked South Africa for the decision to label settler products, and that the PA was prepared to provide South Africa and other countries with information about any goods manufactured in the settlements.
Israel responded furiously to South Africa’s move, with the Foreign Ministry calling it a step that discriminates and is reminiscent of the racism that South Africa itself once endured. Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon went even further writing on his Facebook page Thursday that “unfortunately it turns out that the changes that took place in South Africa over the years did not bring about a fundamental change in the country, and it remains an apartheid country.”
Presently, Ayalon said, South Africa’s apartheid is directed at Israel, as well as against striking miners in South Africa itself.
Referring to the South African police shooting and killing 34 striking miners last week, Ayalon said that “instead of taking a decision to mark Israeli products, it would have been better had the South African government taken a courageous decision in regards to the 34 innocent miners who only wanted to improve their work conditions.”
Meanwhile, Ma’aleh Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel – whose city is 10 minutes east of Jerusalem beyond the Green Line – sent Coovadia and South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane a letter saying Pretoria’s policy will ultimately harm Palestinians earning their living in Israeli factories.
According to the letter, more than 2,500 Palestinians are employed by factories in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Park that falls under Kashriel’s jurisdiction.
Those factories provide the Palestinian employees with “a respectable income, and we are on good neighborly terms with them,” he said. “Any damage to these companies will cause their closure and dismissal of the Palestinian workers.”
Kashriel also warned that such a move may spark a counter boycott of Palestinian products, something that could cause “economic damage to trade in Palestinian cites.”
Kashriel urged the South African government to postpone and reconsider its decision, saying it will “cause irreversible damage both to the population in Ma’aleh Adumim in general, and to the Palestinians in particular.”