Michael Mpofu

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TWO OPPOSITION parties were to march to the offices of the Department of Trade and Industry in Pretoria yesterday in protest against its decision to prevent Israel from labelling goods produced in occupied Palestinian territory as “made in Israel”.

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) intended to hand over a memorandum, calling on Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies to withdraw the notice.

On May 1, Davies issued a notice saying traders in SA would be required not to “incorrectly” label products from the occupied Palestinian territory as products of Israel.

He said the NGO, Open Shuhada Street, had alerted him to the fact that certain products of the firm Ahava – cosmetic brands, soft drinks and technology – were being distributed in SA as having been manufactured in Israel, when they had been made in the occupied region.

He said the government recognised the state of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the UN in 1948, which did not include Palestinian territories occupied after 1967.

“Consumers in South Africa should not be misled,” Davies said in the notice.

ACDP president Kenneth Meshoe said his party disagreed with Davies’s notice as it was based “on an allegation – and not facts” by the “radical anti-Israel lobby group” Open Shuhada Street.

The IFP said it was “concerned” the notice would “associate the government with Open Shuhada Street, whose aim is to see a total boycott on products from Israel, and ultimately the advancement of repeated calls by the Iranian government to “annihilate Israel”.

“Occupied Palestinian territory is not a country but rather an area within Judea and Samaria. Accordingly, to label Israeli products as originating from ‘occupied Palestinian territory’ and not ‘made in Israel’ would be misleading and incorrect,” Meshoe said.

IFP MP Mario Ambrosini said Davies was “playing politics” instead of focusing on economic growth.

Open Shuhada Street spokesman Bruce Baigrie said Meshoe’s comments did not “deserve any response”, because his views were “so far to the right” there was “no point in engaging” in dialogue about the matter.

He said Davies was “merely enforcing a law”stipulating traders may not falsely label a product’s origin.