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South Africa Approves 'Made in Palestinian Territories' Labels, Facing Israeli Condemnation

Common Dreams staff

A supermarket at Maponya shopping mall, in Soweto. (AFP Photo/Stephane de Sakutin)

South Africa's cabinet approved the placing of Occupied Palestinian Territory labels on imported goods from Jewish settlements this week, sparking a diplomatic row with Israel.

The cabinet decision comes three months after the plan was first submitted by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

"This is in line with South Africa's stance that recognizes the 1948 borders delineated by the United Nations and does not recognize occupied territories beyond these borders as being part of the state of Israel," government spokesman Jimmy Manyi told a press briefing on Wednesday.

“The struggle for liberation in South Africa benefited from international support and solidarity and we call upon South Africans to support the struggle of the Palestinian people,” last week’s South African’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation press release stated.

South African officials made clear that the country's backing of Palestine stems from its own history of apartheid, oppression and rights abuses.

"Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it's not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel," Ebrahim Ebrahim, South Africa's deputy foreign minister, told City Press newspaper.

"We discourage people from going there except if it has to do with the peace process."

The Israeli Foreign Ministry condemned the action Thursday and said it would summon South Africa's ambassador to lodge a protest over the decision.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress has historically backed Palestinian struggles while Israel was one of the few countries to have strong ties with South Africa's former white-minority apartheid government.

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