Minister lambasted over products labelling
The government was not boycotting Israeli products by insisting that goods emanating from occupied Palestinian territories like the West Bank could no longer be labelled as "Made in Israel".
"South African consumers have the right to get accurate information. We are not seeking to promote a boycott," Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said in parliament yesterday.
Last week, the government gazetted a notice for public participation over its intentions to place stricter controls on the labels of products coming in from Palestine and Israel.
Currently, imports from Israeli companies within occupied Palestinian territories, particularly from the West Bank, had been labelled "Made in Israel".
"Our recognition is the 1967 borders of Israel. There is a distinction between products from within borders and products from territories outside, notably the West Bank. Products ranged from cosmetic brands to soft drinks," said Davies.
"We haven't said they are prohibited from entering South Africa but it would have to be correctly labelled," he added.
The move came after Palestinian NGO Open Shuhada Street threatened legal action over false food labelling.
"It is not a per se trade law, it is a consumer protection law," said Davies.
He had since been challenged by an Israeli television station for positing anti-Semitic feelings and being a "left-handed Jew". He rejected these with utter contempt.
The Jewish Board of Deputies said Davies' intentions were based on his communications with lobby groups who shared an anti-Israel political agenda.
Board chairman Mary Kluk said: "The question of products originating from disputed territories is a technically complicated one. The [board] urges the South African government not to prejudge the issue," said Kluk.