Coalition of Women for Peace and Codepink protest at an Ahava store in a Hilton Hotel, Tel Aviv, 2009. (Photo: Karen Manor/ActiveStills)
Earlier this month, South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry announced that products produced in the West Bank but labeled “made in Israel” will no longer be sold in the country. The judgment calls for “traders in South Africa, not to incorrectly label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.”
The move came in response to pressure from the global movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS). The ruling references evidence presented by Open Shuhada Street and Ahava is cited as a specific company violating South African trade legislation:
The Open Shuhada street.org (Open Shuhada) has alleged that products of Ahava such as cosmetic brands, technology and soft drinks are being distributed in South Africa as products that originate in Israel whereas they originate from the OPT.
In this regard consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating from the OPT are products originating from Israel. The burden of proving where the products originate will lie with traders.
The government of South Africa recognizes the State of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the United Nations (UN) in 1948. Such demarcated borders of Israel by the UN do not include Palestinian Territories occupied after 1967.
Ahava cosmetics are manufactured in Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal Israeli settlement located in the West Bank near the Dead Sea. Since 2010 the European Union has required products made outside of Israel’s 1967-borders are marked as such. And earlier in 2008, the United Kingdom ordered labels on settlement products. Although the British ruling was a “recommendation” and not legally binding, it indicated companies that continue to use fraudulent labels could be criminally charged. It is unclear if South African distributors that violate the trade and industry ruling could also face prosecution.