'Israel is free to trade with SA' - DTI

President Barack Obama and President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

President Barack Obama and President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

The department of trade and industry (DTI) announced on Wednesday that it had no plans to impose trade restrictions on Israel amid its conflict with Palestine.

“We have not yet made any assumptions against Israel. It’s not government’s call,” said department spokesperson Sidwell Medupe. “People in South Africa are free to trade with Israel, and Israel is free to trade with South Africa.”

Medupe said South Africa’s trade policy was aligned with its foreign policy, recently highlighted by President Jacob Zuma at the first-ever US-Africa Summit in Washington.

Speaking at a US Chamber of Commerce business forum on Monday, Zuma he said the country was outraged by the “continued violence that is claiming scores of lives of civilians in Palestine”.

Zuma said there would never be a military solution to the problem, and urged both sides to sit and talk so that they could arrive at an internationally agreed solution of two states.

At a National Press Club luncheon later that day, Zuma also criticised Hamas, saying, “We are outraged by the killing of civilians by Israel, some in United Nations shelters.” Zuma also condemned the “killing of Israeli civilians by Hamas”.

Woolworths boycott
Meanwhile, the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P) on Wednesday called for a boycott of all Woolworths stores because the chain had refused to remove Israeli products from its stores.
NC4P spokesperson Edwin Arrison said the coalition was made up of the ANC Youth League, the Muslim Judicial Council, the trade union federation Cosatu, and other bodies.

“The call to boycott is due to Woolworths’s unwavering support for the apartheid state of Israel, and comes after much research and assessment of the status and level of trade between the chain store and the Israeli state,” Arrison said.

Woolworths has responded, saying that it had no political affiliations. The statement read, “We respect our customers’ right to make individual purchasing choices, which is why we clearly label every product’s country of origin and fully comply with government guidelines on product from Israel.” The company said that less than 0.1% of their food, mostly imported fresh produce, was sourced from Israel.

The NC4P’s Arrison said the coalition would call for boycotts of other companies once it had conducted further research. – Sapa

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