South African trade ministry publishes West Bank goods notice, despite negotiations

PRETORIA, South Africa (JTA) – The South African Trade Ministry published a second notice concerning the labeling of Israeli products, despite working with the Jewish community on a compromise.

Contrary to the more restricted proposal issued in May, the notice published Oct. 12 in the Government Gazette refers to all products originating from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and eastern Jerusalem as ‘’requiring an importer, producer, retailer or supplier of the Republic of South Africa to label goods that originate from the Israeli Occupied Territory (hereinafter referred to as ‘’IOT’’) namely: East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, as goods originating from IOT. Goods originating from IOT must not be labeled as goods originating from Israel.’’

The new notice defines Israel’s borders as those recognized by the South African government.

‘’The label ‘Made in Israel’ may only be applied to goods that originate from within Israel’s borders of 1948-1967 before they were unilaterally changed by Israel in 1967 Six Day War," the notice reads.

The publication of the new notice came as a surprise to the South African Jewish community. Two weeks ago, Wendy Kahn of the South African Jewish Board
of Deputies and Avrom Krengel of the Zionist Federation presented their case before the South African Parliamentary Portfolio Committee handling trade and industry issues. The committee asked them and a representative of the pro-Palestinian Open Shuhada Street Organization to submit written documents to further explain their positions.

A representative of the Trade Ministry who participated in the meeting assured all the parties that the ministry would not take any steps to implement the notice until the submissions were made, and until a comprehensive debate with all stakeholders was launched, so that a compromise could be reached.

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies was in the process of submitting its document on Oct. 12 when the new notice was published.

Kahn in a statement issued Monday condemned the publication of the notice, saying that Trade Minister Rob Davies "has shown his disdain to engage with our community by ignoring our 33 meeting requests."

"When at last he was pressurized into meeting us, he was hostile and dismissive of our concerns," the statement said. "It is obvious that our written submissions were ignored, and now he has disregarded an agreement made at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to delay the final notice till proper public participation process have taken place."

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