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Israeli product labels scrutinised

Cape Times

Aziz Hartley

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PLEASED: Activist Zackie Achmat says that labelling products made in Palestine as Israeli is illegal.

TRADE and Industry Minister Rob Davies intends issuing a notice to prevent traders from labelling imported products produced in the Occupied Palestine Territory as if it had come from Israel.

Davies said in a government gazette published last week that consumers should not be misled into believing products originating in occupied Palestine originated from Israel. The burden of proving the origin of product rested with traders, he said.

Davies’s notice followed an allegation by pro-Palestinian NGO Open Shuhada Street that cosmetics, technology and other products of Ahava being sold locally were falsely labelled as having originated in Israel when they had been produced in occupied Palestine.

“The government of South Africa recognises the state of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the UN in 1948. Such demarcated borders of Israel by the UN do not include Palestine territories occupied after 1967,” Davies stated in the gazette.

Open Shuhada Street member Zackie Achmat said last night that the department had been given proof of Ahava products being incorrectly labelled and sold locally in stores such as Dis-chem. “If any company that makes products coming from occupied Palestine says the products are made in Israel, they are breaking two laws. One is an international law under the Geneva Convention, which says you can’t occupy a country and you can’t steal its resources. The other law being broken is our Consumer Protection Act, which says you cannot falsely label a product,” Achmat said.

On its website, Open Shuhada said: “Minister Davies’s notice is… encouragement to all Palestinian people… The government’s step in this direction is also a defence of Jewish Israeli dissenters and activists who, along with their Palestinian comrades, face imprisonment if they call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions”.

* Davies said public comments should be sent to his department by July 9 to Ntutuzelo Vananda at 012 394 1383, or send an e-mail to [email protected] or a letter to 77 Mentjies Street, Sunnyside, Pretoria

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