Fears that more countries will join settlement boycott

Denmark and South Africa have already announced special labels for goods produced in West Bank settlements.

The Manufacturers Association of Israel and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor are afraid that the discrimination against Israeli goods produced in West Bank settlements will spread. Over the weekend, South African Minister of Trade and Industry Dr. Rob Davies announced that goods produced in Israeli settlements would carry special labels. Danish Foreign Minister Villy Sovndal also announced Israeli goods originating in the West Bank imported by Denmark will from now on carry a special label.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Shalom Simhon told "Globes" today, "Exports of goods produced by Israeli enterprises beyond the Green Line are a negligible proportion of total Israeli exports. However, I am deeply concerned of a chain reaction that will cause other countries to follow the South African initiative. At the moment, I believe that this is a single initiative."

Leading manufacturers told "Globes" that the value of goods exported from enterprises in Judea and Samaria total tens of millions of dollars annually, a negligible proportion of Israel's $46 billion in annual export of goods.

However, the manufacturers said that the initiative by the South African government raises deep concerns that it will inspire other countries to follow suit.

"This isn't the first time that the issue has been put on the agenda," Simhon added. "In the past, the issue mostly affected fresh agricultural produce originating in the territories, and the issue was kept on the back burner. In this case too, the scale is small, but as an export-oriented economy, Israel cannot let the situation grow and get out of control. We cannot allow ourselves to fall asleep on the watch, and we're cooperating with the Foreign Ministry in the hope that this won't spread to other countries.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Liberman said, "Both countries lose from this matter, but the ball is in South Africa's court." At a joint press conference with the US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitino, he added, "Regrettably, South Africa has undertaken a clear anti-Israel policy in recent years, and I regret that a country that suffered for years from racism is adopting the same policy against Israel."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 20, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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