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Israel slams South Africa

Aug. 23, 2012 at 8:20 AM

JERUSALEM, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Israel called a South African Cabinet decision to mandate special labels on goods from West Bank settlements "racist" and "unacceptable."

Israel's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Wednesday saying the decision "brings to mind ideas of a racist nature which the government of South Africa, more than any other, should have wholly rejected."

The ministry called the measure "blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction. ... Israel and South Africa have political differences and that is legitimate. What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott."

Danny Ayalon, Israel's deputy foreign minister, said the South African Cabinet decision shows it remains "an apartheid state," The Jerusalem Post said. The ministry plans to summons the South African ambassador for clarifications, the newspaper said.

Israel's criticism is in response to South Africa approving a plan requiring labels on products from West Bank settlements so they don't read "made in Israel," the Post said.

A statement issued by the Cabinet said 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."

The United Nations never delineated borders in 1948, so it is unclear whether South Africa is referring to the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947 or the 1949 Armistice Lines, the Post noted.

"It is the firm belief of the Jewish communal leadership that the proposed measures are discriminatory, divisive and inconsistent with South African trade policy and seriously flawed from both an administrative and procedural point of view. ... they are believed to be motivated not by technical trade concerns but by political bias against the State of Israel," a statement issued by the South African Zionist Federation and South Africa's chief rabbi said.

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