MP touts defeat of SA settlement product labeling

South African MP Meshoe hails victory in blocking bill requiring labeling of WB goods as from "occupied Palestinian territory."

Anti-Israel protestors in South Africa 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)
Anti-Israel protestors in South Africa 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)
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 world.
The parliamentarians will also attend the International Christian Embassy’s annual Feast of Tabernacles, which brought 5,000 Christians to Israel this week.
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 unconstitutionality.
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 organization.
It is wrong and improper to make laws based only on allegations – this law even said ‘it has been alleged,’” Meshoe explained.
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.
“In the 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 explained.
“In short,” he added, “the comparison is nonsense. There is nothing to it. When people see Israel themselves, they understand.”
“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.