Israel outraged over S. Africa ‘occupied territories’ labeling
Israel denounces a South African decision to assign special labels on goods originating in the West Bank, calling the decision “blatant discrimination” against the Jewish state. Pretoria argues the move is consistent with its national law.
The South African cabinet has approved the trade and industry department’s notice demanding merchandise originating from the “Israeli occupied territories” to be labeled as such.
The cabinet decision comes three months after the plan was first submitted by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the action as “totally unacceptable” and called it “blatant discrimination” against the Jewish state. It plans to summon the South African ambassador to explain the situation.
Local Jewish leaders in South Africa have also voiced strong concerns.
A statement issued by the South African Jewish community said that the minority in the country is “outraged” over such a policy.
The South African cabinet had issued a statement after adopting the resolution claiming “This is in line with South Africa’s stance that recognizes the 1948 borders delineated by the United Nations and does not recognize occupied territories beyond these borders as being part of the state of Israel.”
The government argues the move is to prevent customers “being led to believe that such goods come from Israel,” government spokesman Jimmy Manyi told reporters on Wednesday.
However, the goods that will that originate from the Israeli controlled land will still be sold nationwide in South Africa.
The South African policy towards Palestine is derived and formulated based on its own history of oppression and human rights abuses, according to the country’s Foreign Ministry.
“The Government of South Africa has since 1994 consistently supported the Palestinian cause whilst increasingly putting pressure on Israel at a bilateral and multilateral level with a view to finding a just and lasting solution,” last week’s South African’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation press release stated.
“The struggle for liberation in South Africa benefited from international support and solidarity and we call upon South Africans to support the struggle of the Palestinian people,” the statement added.
Palestinians design solar car not to buy petrol from Israel (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
Necessity is the mother of invention, and for Palestinians living on the West Bank trying to break their dependence on Israel for energy has resulted in a new solar powered vehicle.
The four-seater is covered in solar panels to convert the suns rays into energy to power a small electric motor which pushes the vehicle along at 20 Kph for about 10 hours. And if the sun doesn’t shine it can be plugged into the wall, and the battery recharged from the mains.
It looks a bit like an over-sized golf cart and took the Royal Industrial Trading Company around two months and $5000 to develop.
“This car was the first step, and now we are working on two other cars. If the work is successful, then we will do a lot of cars and sell them”, says Nabel Az-Zagheer, chairman of the Royal Industrial Trading Company.
Based in the town of Al-Khalil, the company specialises in sanitation and water supply products, and adapted them to create the new vehicle.
A greater use of solar energy could help the people of the West Bank escape escalating energy prices.
Israel has control over the fuel supply to the Palestinian population, and according to the Oslo agreements, the Palestinian Authority is obliged not to sell its gasoline for less than 15 percent of Israel’s market price, reports the The Electronic Intifada.
“Such supply monopolies are a form of power. They provide easy ways to exert political pressure on the Palestinian Authority and ordinary Palestinians and to enforce their compliance with Israel’s interests”, Charles Shamas, a founder of the Mattin Group, a Ramallah-based research and advocacy organization told the Middle East Media Center.
The Palestinians are also heavily dependent on electric power provided by Israel. A power station in Gaza provides some 40% percent of the Strip’s electricity; the rest has to be purchased from Israel. Some small amounts are also sold by Egypt and Jordan.
“We want to lower as much as possible our dependence on Israel, because we won’t be able to reach a reasonable level of national security if Israel can, at any point, disconnect our electricity, and even harm the power plant in Gaza, as it did in 2006 as punishment for the abduction of Gilad Shalit,” Hanna Siniora, chairperson of the Palestinian-American Chamber of Commerce, has told Al-Monitor.com
Constantly rising fuel prices affect the cost of basic foodstuffs such as maize, vegetable oil and bread.
Palestinian efforts to reduce its dependency on Israeli energy have met strong opposition from Tel Aviv.
In March RT reported on Israel’s plans to bulldoze eight solar panels in the West Bank. They were donated by a number of international charities in 2009, yet have were deemed “illegal” by Israeli authorities due to the lack of an appropriate building permit.
The 62% of the West Bank controlled by Israel is not connected to the national energy grid. On the other hand, the Jewish settlements in the area are connected to national energy and water grids, reports the Guardian.
“We saw a systematic targeting of the water infrastructure in Hebron, Bethlehem and the Jordan valley. Now, in the last couple of months, they are targeting electricity. Two villages in the area have had their electrical poles torn down. There is a systematic effort by the civil administration targeting all Palestinian infrastructure in Hebron. They are hoping that by making it miserable enough, they [the Palestinians] will pick up and leave,” an anonymous UN expert told the Guardian.
Netanyahu rejects his foreign minister’s remarks on Palestinians
Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:52pm IST
* Foreign minister is Netanyahu coalition partner
* PM distances himself from call for voters to oust Abbas
By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuked his far-right foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, on Wednesday for suggesting Palestinians should vote out their president to help revive peace efforts.
Netanyahu’s opening of a public rift with his coalition ally appeared to be an attempt to minimise any diplomatic fallout at a time when Israel is trying to persuade world powers to ramp up sanctions against Iran over its nuclear activities.
In a letter to Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Lieberman accused President Mahmoud Abbas of “acting to undermine attempts to renew the peace process”.
Lieberman urged the Palestinians to hold a long-delayed election to choose “a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic” leadership that can “bring progress with Israel”.
Abbas was elected in 2005 and his original mandate expired in 2009. However, plans for a new ballot have been regularly postponed because of a deep schism within Palestinian politics.
Through an official in his office, Netanyahu swiftly distanced himself from Lieberman’s comments. Lieberman heads the Yisrael Beitenu party, which holds 15 of the 66 seats that Netanyahu’s coalition controls in the 120-member parliament.
“What was written in the letter by the foreign minister does not correctly represent the position of the prime minister or of the government as a whole,” said the official, who declined to be identified by name.
“While the Palestinian leadership under Abu Mazen (Abbas) has created difficulties that have prevented the resumption of talks, Israel is committed to working with the Palestinian leadership to restarting the dialogue, and of course Israel does not interfere in election processes in other places,” the official said.
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