The South Africa Trade and Industry Ministry announced Saturday that the government intends to ban local importers from selling products from West Bank settlements with a label indicating that they were made in Israel.
The decision came after a one year-long campaign launched by Palestinian organizations and South African human rights groups. While South Africa is not banning the sale of products from settlements, the decision will oblige merchants to apply a special label noting that the product originates from beyond the Green Line.
If the decision is implemented, South Africa will become the first country to specially mark products from the Jewish settlements.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies issued a notice saying the new directive would ensure that South African importers do not to "incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory as products of Israel."
Notice issued by Department of Trade and Industry
The notice also said that the government of South Africa recognizes the State of Israel only within the borders delineated by the United Nations in 1948.
The minister added that he received many complaint letters over soft drinks and tech companies, as well as Dead Sea cosmetics company Ahava, which distribute their products in South Africa as if they originate from Israel, "whereas they originate from the occupied Palestinian territories."
The official notice, signed by the minister on May 1, calls on the public to send in their responses to the decision, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1.
The decision stirred controversy in Jerusalem, officials saying that South Africa's ambassador to Israel will be summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Sunday for clarification.
The officials called the decision "racist," saying "it's a shame that South Africa, which suffered from racism for years, is the one leading this gambit."
The officials added that the decision specifically targets Israel , and has not been issued against any other state, which proves that it is a politically-motivated move that can have detrimental consequences on Israeli exports as a whole.
Yesha Council chairman Dani Dayan also
responded to the announcment, telling Ynet that it is not surprising the decision was made by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, who he called "a radical leftist Jew."
"This proves once again that Jews from the radical Left proudly lead the propaganda campaign against the State of Israel. The same goes for J Street in
the United States and Goldstone
in South Africa. We will prevail," he added.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority welcomed the decision, saying that it is a first step in the right direction.
Head of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee Mohammed Khatib and a resident of the village of Bilin said the decision "stems from the recognition that the Palestinians were wronged by the occupation and the settlements, and that the de-facto annexation of our land is illegal."
On Friday, Denmark's Foreign Minister Willy Sondal said he is looking into allowing supermarkets to apply special labels to products made in the West Bank.
In an interview with a local paper, Sondal said he wants to give consumers the option to decide which products to purchase. "This move shows consumers that the products are made under conditions that are not only approved by the Danish government, but also by European governments," he said.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report