[ 19/05/2012 - 02:34 PM ]
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- The Pretoria government intends to delete the name "Israel" from commercial badges affixed to several goods produced in Jewish settlements in the West Bank, out of fear of prosecution.
Several organizations supportive of the Palestinian cause in South Africa threatened to file a lawsuit against the Ministry of Trade if it does not respond to its demand to stop importation of products originating from those settlements.
The Hebrew media reported on Saturday that the Israeli embassy in South Africa is investigating the authenticity of the information posted regarding the government of Pretoria's intention to delete the word "Israel" from goods produced in the Jewish settlements.
Denmark’s foreign minister has joined South Africa in a call to ban Israeli goods produced on occupied Palestinian land from branding themselves “made in Israel”.
Villy Søvndal announced on Saturday that he planned to apply strict labelling criteria to Israeli goods, which “clearly shows consumers that the products are produced under conditions that not only the Danish government but also European governments do not approve”.
“It will then be up to consumers whether they choose to buy the products or not,” he told Politiken newspaper.
Mr Sovndal’s announcement follows a significant victory in South Africa for the pro-Palestinian lobby, led by the Palestinian Popular Struggle Committee and Open Shuhada.
Dr Rob Davies, South Africa’s minister of trade and industry, issued a notice earlier this month banning products “wrongly labelled as originating in Israel”.
“The government of South African recognises the State of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the UN in 1948,” Dr Davies stated, adding that consumers should not be misled into thinking products made in occupied Palestinian territory have been produced in Israel. Citizens have 60 days in which to lodge an objection to the government directive.
Mohammed Khatib, a member of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee and West Bank resident, welcomed South Africa’s decision but urged the government to take an even firmer stance.
“The notice is an important first step, which, reason suggests, should be followed by a complete ban on the marketing of these products in South Africa, no matter how they are labelled,” he said.
Yigal Palmour, spokesperson for Israel’s foreign ministry, dismissed speculation that South Africa’s position would spark a wave of international restrictions on Israeli settlement products.
“I think this movement will remain in South Africa, where it is peculiar to local politics. No one knows how to distinguish between the West Bank and Israel.
It is clear this measure will affect all Israeli products. It is unacceptable to single out and stigmatise one country in terms of trade,” Mr Palmour said. “I do not think it will be a trend.”
More than half a million Jewish settlers live and work in the West Bank and East Jerusalem on land conquered by Israel in the 1967 war. Israel is within its rights as an occupying power to make economic use of the resources of this land but only in order to sustain an army and cover the costs of administrating occupied territory.
Previously, the strongest steps to restrict Israel’s settlement industry have been taken by Britain. Following Israel’s refusal to label settlement products for export to the EU, Gordon Brown’s government issued strict stipulations in 2009 to retailers in the UK on how to differentiate between Palestinian products and those made by Israeli manufacturers beyond the Green Line.