Following South Africa's decision over the weekend to label products manufactured in Israeli settlements, the diplomatic rift between the two countries appears to have grown wider by Monday. The Foreign Ministry sought to summon the South African envoy to rebuke him over the move, but he cut off contact with Israeli officials and appeared to be evading their calls.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Cape Town last week and met with government leaders. South Africa sought to keep the meeting a secret, according to sources at the Foreign Ministry. However, a report in the Tehran Times said that the South African Foreign Ministry had praised "Iran's policy." Jerusalem intends to ask for clarifications regarding the reported meeting.
The Foreign Ministry vowed on Sunday that the South African Ambassador Ismail Coovadia would not evade rebuke for his government's policy of marking products produced beyond the Green Line.
"Unfortunately, South Africa has adopted a clear anti-Israeli policy in recent years," said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "I regret that precisely this country, which suffered years of racism and other negative phenomena, has adopted the same policies toward Israel. It is no coincidence that the Durban conference, the most anti-Israel forum in existence, takes place in South Africa. Both countries are losing out due to this matter, but the ball is in South Africa's court."
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat (Likud) on Sunday spoke with leaders of South Africa's Jewish community and asked them to pressure their government to reconsider its decision. They told Livnat that Jewish leaders were also surprised by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies' decision to label settlement goods, and they are looking into whether such a decision is legal.
MK Ahmad Tibi (Ra'am–Ta'al) on Sunday sent a letter to the South African envoy thanking him for his government's decision, according to Army Radio. Tibi reportedly also said he hoped other countries would adopt similar measures to boycott goods produced in Israeli settlements.