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Israel, South Africa at odds over goods

JERUSALEM — Israel accused South Africa today of behaving like an apartheid state by requiring Israeli goods made by West Bank settlers to be labelled as originating from occupied Palestinian territory.

The rhetoric is likely to strain Israel’s relations with South Africa, whose ruling African National Congress fought to end the apartheid regime.

The ANC had strongly backed the Palestinian cause while Israel was one of the few countries to have strong ties with South Africa’s white-minority government, which relinquished power in 1994.

Israeli trade with South Africa is modest but the impact of Pretoria’s decision on goods-labeling has raised Israeli concern that other states could follow suit and bolster calls by Palestinians to boycott Israeli products made in the West Bank.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it would summon South Africa’s ambassador to lodge a protest over the decision on labelling goods from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“Unfortunately it turns out the change that has begun in South Africa over the years has not brought about any basic change in the country, and it remains an apartheid state,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said in response to Pretoria’s move. (Reuters)

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