South Africa 'occupied territories' label angers Israel


Yellow and Red peppers produced in Palestinian territories are displayed with "Produce of Palestinian Authority" tags at an agricultural fair in the West Bank city of Nablus on May 25, 2012. This week South Africa said it requires products made in the West Bank to say from "occupied Palestinian territory"


Jaafar Ashtiyeh

Israel today condemned a South African label requirement that demands all West Bank-made products have a tag stating that it is from "occupied Palestinian territory," the New York Times reported.

In a statement Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson, said the label was "totally unacceptable."

"What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott," he said. "Such exclusion and discrimination bring to mind ideas of racist nature which the government of South Africa, more than any other, should have wholly rejected."

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies called the label "divisive." The group said in a statement that the label law was "motivated not by technical trade concerns but by political bias against the state of Israel."

The Jerusalem Post reported Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, responding to the new label via Facebook:

"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."

Ayalon was referring to the killing of 34 mineworkers by police in South Africa last week.

Jimmy Manyi, a South African government spokesman, told reporters the new label was consistent with their position toward Israel-Palestine. "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," he said.