Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, on Saturday slammed the recent decision by South Africa’s trade and industry minister to issue a directive forcing importers to remove “Made in Israel” tags from products originating in West Bank settlements, calling it an “essentially racist decision.”
The Foreign Ministry was reported to be preparing to summon the South African ambassador for clarification of the issue.
“This isn’t a case of political opposition to the settlements, but rather of singling out a country by special labeling, according to nationalist-political criteria,” said Palmor.
“It is shocking to think that South Africa of all countries is showing such obtuseness and treading down the slippery slope towards racism,” added Palmor.
Israel’s embassy in South Africa said Friday it was concerned by the news and was clarifying the matter.
Writing in a government notice last week, Minister Rob Davies said he would “require traders in SA not to incorrectly label products that originate from occupied Palestinian territory as products of Israel.”
“Consumers in SA should not be misled into believing products originating from occupied territories are products originating from Israel,” Davies said in his notice. ”The burden of proving where the products originate will lie with the traders.”
The move comes after Davies came under fire last month for referring a request on the matter to Consumer Commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala instead of dealing with it himself.
Pro-Palestinian group Shuhada Street, which had made the original request, threatened to take Davies to court to explain his actions.
The move is likely to negatively impact Israeli companies and importers operating in South Africa, financial newspaper Business Day reported.
The paper quoted local Zionist federation spokesman Ben Swartz saying the issue was “very concerning both to the Jewish community and many other interested parties.”
Pro-Palestinian groups in other countries have pushed for similar legislation.