Israel slams South Africa for targeting 'settlement' products

Thursday, August 23, 2012 |  Ryan Jones

Israel responded angrily on Wednesday after South Africa officially decided to ban "Made in Israel" labelling on Israeli-made products that originate in Judea and Samaria, the so-called "West Bank" that makes up Israel's biblical heartland.

Israel's Foreign Ministry released a statement accusing South Africa of returning to its apartheid roots by targeting Israel in such a manner.

The decision "brings to mind ideas of a racist nature which the government of South Africa, more than any other, should have wholly rejected," read the statement.

The Foreign Ministry went on to note that while South Africa may have legitimate disputes with Israel over policy, it also has disputes with other nations, and singling out Israel for such unique punishment is discriminatory.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon went even further, charging that the government decision demonstrates that "South Africa remains an apartheid state."

What's more worrying is that the wording of the government decision (seen below) not only bans the "Made in Israel" label, but seems to require new labelling denoting such products as coming from territories "occupied" by Israel.

The South African cabinet stated that it had "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."

Israeli commentators noted that the wording betrayed the South African government's political bias against Israel. The cabinet decision speaks of the 1948 borders, but in reality there are no such borders.

In 1947, the UN proposed a partition plan, but that was rejected by the Arabs, thus not resulting in official borders. In 1949, Israel and the Arab states (note: NOT the Palestinians, as they were not a nation) signed armistice agreements ending the previous year's war, but armistice lines are not official borders and are subject to change as a result of subsequent conflicts.

In short, there is no border between Israel proper and the "West Bank" that has ever been recognized by the international community in a legally binding fashion.

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