J´lem, Pretoria eye each other over labeling issue (JERUSALEM POST) By HERB KEINON, RINA BASSIST IN PRETORIA 05/22/12)
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South Africa’s ambassador told a senior Foreign Ministry official on
Sunday at a late night meeting that he would look into Pretoria’s
policy on labeling goods from the settlements and get back to him,
Israeli officials said on Monday.
But reflecting confusion over the whole issue, Eugene Grobler, a
political counselor at South Africa’s embassy in Tel Aviv, denied any
such meeting had taken place, and said that the embassy was waiting
for a confirmation of a date for a meeting.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman, however, insisted that a meeting
between the deputy director-general for Africa, Avi Granot, and the
South African envoy, Ismail Coovadia, did take place. The official
stressed, however, that this was not to deliver a reprimand, but only
to establish the facts of South Africa’s polices concerning the
labeling of goods originating in settlements.
The meeting came at the end of a day during which the Foreign
Ministry said that Coovadia had been unreachable.
Another meeting with the ambassador at the ministry is expected later
South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies published a
notice in the government’s gazette two weeks ago saying that products
that “originate from the Occupied Palestinians Territory” must not be
labeled as made in Israel.
Israel’s strong reaction to the move was intended, one government
official said, to get the South African government to step away from
the policy before it became official. It also seemed intended to send
a message to other countries that such moves would be fiercely
resisted by Jerusalem.
In a related development, the University of KwaZulu- Natal canceled a
lecture Monday that was to be given by Israel’s deputy ambassador to
South Africa, Yaakov Finkelstein.
The decision to cancel the event, made both by the vice chancellor of
the university and Israeli representatives, came in light of massive
demonstrations organized by anti-Israel groups at the event.
The Israeli Embassy said that once it was felt that Finkelstein might
be in danger, the decision was jointly made to postpone the lecture.
Hila Stern, the spokeswoman at the embassy in Pretoria, said the
lecture was part of the embassy’s usual academic cultural cooperation
“We are sorry that anti-Israeli elements have embarked on a campaign
of intellectual terror that rejects everything academia believes in:
Dialogue, discussions, research, understanding and freedom of speech.
The use of bullying to silence freedom of expression in an academic
setting is a very sad development,” she said.
The decision to cancel the lecture was not directly related to the
settlement-labeling issue, one Israeli official said, though he added
that the South African government was creating an atmosphere where
this type of “bullying” against Israel could take place. (© 1995-
2011, The Jerusalem Post 05/22/12)
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