South Africa government in court over labelling

By Moira Schneider, September 6, 2012
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The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) is taking the government to court over what has become known as the “relabelling issue”.

In May this year, a notice was published in the Government Gazette signalling the intention to require all goods produced in the West Bank to be labelled as emanating from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, rather than Israel.

Last month, the cabinet ratified the plan, which also holds importers responsible for identifying the source of products.

In its court application, the SAZF, together with the importers of Ahava beauty products, concentrated on the technical aspects of Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies’s notice, pronounced “deficient” by the Federation’s attorneys.

Talking to the trade minister was going nowhere

SAZF chairman Avrom Krengel told Ha’aretz that, should the notice proclaiming the re-labelling be declared invalid, the process that followed would likewise be nullified.

In the wake of the notice, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies made “several unsuccessful attempts” to meet with Mr Davies, according to Board chair Mary Kluk.

When a meeting eventually took place, it was “unpleasant and unfortunate”, with the minister telling the group that he had been convinced of the need for labelling by activists Open Shuhada Street and that the Board should “put in a submission” countering the proposed legislation.

“It seemed clear that we weren’t going to get anywhere by talking to the minister,” Mr Krengel said of the court action.

Should the plan be gazetted into law, the Federation and the Board would “seriously consider bringing an application for a full review of the entire process,” Mr Krengel told website MyShtetl.

Last updated: 9:35am, September 6 2012