The South African Ministry of Trade and Industry has approved a move to place Occupied Palestinian Territorylabels on imported goods from Jewish settlements.
In a press briefing on Wednesday 22 August, government spokesman Jimmy Manyi stated that the decision was “in line with South Africa’s stance that recognises the 1948 borders delineated by the United Nations and does not recognise occupied territories beyond these borders as being part of the state of Israel.”
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) welcomes the decision by South Africa to implement the proposal, which will require accurate labelling of products from illegal settlements in the West Bank. Significantly, the burden for proving where the products originate will lie with the traders.
South Africa is a strong supporter of the Palestinian people, largely due to its own history of apartheid, oppression, and human rights violations. The country’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Ebrahim Ebrahim, recently discouraged South Africans from travelling to Israel, unless the visit was aimed at promoting the peace process. He stated, “Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it’s not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel.”
PCHR condemns, in the strongest terms, the ongoing construction of settlements in the oPt. Israel’s settlement activities violate international law, as well as the private property rights and the collective and individual human rights of the Palestinian people. For example, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from transferring its civilian population into the territory it occupies and from creating any permanent change in an occupied territory not intended for the benefit of the occupied population. As such, the construction of settlements in the oPt constitutes a war crime under international humanitarian law.
In this context, PCHR calls upon:
1. Israel to fulfil its legal obligations under, inter alia, Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and put an end to settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt);
2. The international community to put pressure on Israel to put an immediate end to its settlements policy in the oPt, which violate international human rights law and international humanitarian law; and
3. The High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfil their obligation under Article 1 of the Convention to respect, and ensure respect for, the Convention in all circumstances.