South Africa has put the final seal on a measure requiring special labeling
for goods originating from Israeli
settlements. The move, which has been under consideration since May, was adopted by the South African
government on Wednesday.
This means that products that originate in the settlements will no longer receive the "Made in Israel" label; in Jerusalem
the response was swift. The Foreign Ministry announced that it would summon the South African ambassador for a meeting for clarifications.
The ambassador is set to present himself at the office of the deputy director general of the African Division at the Foreign Ministry.
A ministry statement noted that the move was "without precedent, as no such measure has ever been adopted in South Africa or in any other country: it constitutes therefore a blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction."
The ministry added: "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.
"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 affair raised a great deal of anger among pro-Israel South Africans. Thousands protested
in Pretoria a few weeks ago against the measure.
Officials in Jerusalem mentioned that the South African opposition claimed that the ruling party was manipulative, using the measure to present itself as a party that fights for the oppressed, thus winning the votes of South Africans who were disappointed with the country's human rights situation.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon commented on the decision: "Sadly it seems that the change taking place in South Africa over the past few years has not brought about any changes in the foundations of the country and it remains an apartheid state.
"At the moment apartheid is being directed at Israel and against miners in South Africa itself. Instead of accepting the measure to mark Israeli products it would have been better had the South African government made courageous decisions with regards to the 34 innocent miners who only sought to improve their employment conditions."
The Foreign Ministry had already expressed its displeasure over the move in May when the measure was first introduced. The ministry said at the time that the ambassador to South Africa would be reprimanded.