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South Africa, Denmark to Mark Settlement Products as "Occupied"

By Jspace Staff on 5/22/2012 at 11:04 AM

Categories: Business, Middle East, Israel

South Africa, Denmark to Mark Settlement Products as "Occupied"

Israeli officials fear a spread of boycotts on settlement-produced goods, after two nations announced over the weekend that special labels would be placed on such products.

The South African Minister of Trade and Industry and the Danish Foreign Minister both made headlines when they declared items coming from the West Bank would carry a unique label, letting consumers know where the products originated. The label will read “Made in Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

"This is a step that clearly shows consumers that the products are produced under conditions that not only the Danish government, but also European governments, do not approve of,” said Danish FM Villy Sovndal on Sunday. “It will then be up to consumers whether they choose to buy the products or not."

Rob Davies, South African minister, said Saturday that his country’s decision to label West Bank goods was an effort to “not incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory as products of Israel.”

Israel’s Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Shalom Simhon, told Globes he feared the move could grow into a trend, threatening Israel’s economy.

"Exports of goods produced by Israeli enterprises beyond the Green Line are a negligible proportion of total Israeli exports. However, I am deeply concerned of a chain reaction that will cause other countries to follow the South African initiative,” he said.

Israel’s export business totals an estimated $46 billion a year, with only a few million coming from settlements. Still, Simhon warned that the Jewish state could not afford to be negligent on the matter.

"This isn't the first time that the issue has been put on the agenda," he said. "In the past, the issue mostly affected fresh agricultural produce originating in the territories, and the issue was kept on the back burner. In this case too, the scale is small, but as an export-oriented economy, Israel cannot let the situation grow and get out of control. We cannot allow ourselves to fall asleep on the watch, and we're cooperating with the Foreign Ministry in the hope that this won't spread to other countries.”

Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman added: "Both countries lose from this matter, but the ball is in South Africa's court."

"Regrettably, South Africa has undertaken a clear anti-Israel policy in recent years,” Lieberman said, “and I regret that a country that suffered for years from racism is adopting the same policy against Israel."

Following the news, some factory owners and West Bank officials pointed out that a majority staff of Palestinians employs many production sites in the settlements. Representatives warned that these measures would hurt Arab workers first.

"It's amazing how the radical Left fails to understand that the main victims are the Palestinians themselves," Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika told Ynet. "Fortunately, so far these boycotts have been nothing but PR maneuvers, and we are sure that Jews and Arabs will continue to work together and strengthen our prosperous industry and live in coexistence."

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