Israel foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor
Israel foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor described the South African trade ban as a form of racism Reuters

South Africa's announcement of its plan to ban importing goods marked as "made in Israel" when they come from the Israeli West Bank settlement has angered Israel.

South Africa minister of trade and industry, Rob Davies, said the country will ban products "wrongly labelled as originating in Israel" when they are, in fact, produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

South Africa offers 60 days to respond to the announcement, with pro-Israeli groups expected to campaign for the decision to be overturned.

Israeli's foreign ministry was angered by the move and warned it will have a "severe conversation" with the South African ambassador in Tel Aviv.

Israel foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the move had "characteristics of racism".

He nevertheless dismissed speculation that South Africa's move could lead to an international ban on products made in Israeli settlements.

"This movement will remain in South Africa, where it is peculiar to local politics. No one knows how to distinguish between the West Bank and Israel. It is clear this measure will affect all Israeli products. It is unacceptable to single out and stigmatise one country in terms of trade," he said. "I do not think it will be a trend," he added.

Several South African NGOs had campaigned for the move, including Open Shuhada Street and Attorneys for Human Rights, as well as the Palestinian Popular Struggle coordination committee.

Davies, who is of Jewish origin, said in a statement that "consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating in the [occupied Palestinian territories] are products originating from Israel".

He added that "the government of South Africa recognises the State of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the UN in 1948".

The minister said Open Shuhada Street activists provided the South African ministry of trade and industry with information on products manufactured in the West Bank but labeled as "made in Israel". Such products included cosmetics, soft drinks and electronics.

"The burden for proving where the products originate will lie with traders," the statement added.

As a member of both the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party, Davies was forced to spend many years in exile during the period of apartheid.

Mohammed Khatib, head of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee and a West Bank resident, welcomed the decision, which he described as the "recognition of the injustice the occupation and settlements are causing us, the Palestinians".

Katlib said he hopes other countries will take steps toward imposing a ban on such products.

"The notice is an important first step, which, reason suggests, should be followed by a complete ban on the marketing of these products in South Africa, no matter how they are labelled," he said.

Denmark has followed South Africa in announcing that all goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank should have labels that clearly distinguish those from products made in Israel.