Israel's foreign ministry on Thursday summoned South Africa's envoy to formally protest Pretoria's decision to place "Occupied Palestinian Territory" labels on goods from Jewish settlements.
Foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said ambassador Ismail Coovadia was summoned to the ministry in Jerusalem where "we made a formal protest and discussed the issue in depth."
Palmor blasted the decision as "blatant discrimination based on national and political distinctions."
"Such exclusion and discrimination bring to mind ideas of racist nature which the government of South Africa, more than any other, should have wholly rejected," he said.
The South African cabinet on Wednesday directed its trade minister to issue a notice requiring that such products are marked to inform consumers that the origin is not Israel.
"This is in line with South Africa's stance that recognises the 1948 borders delineated by the United Nations and does not recognise occupied territories beyond these borders as being part of the state of Israel," said government spokesman Jimmy Manyi.
The plan has already met protests in South Africa where local Jewish leaders said Wednesday the community was outraged over what they called "discriminatory, divisive" measures.
"At bottom, they are believed to be motivated not by technical trade concerns but by political bias against the state of Israel. All attempts to discuss these concerns, however, have come to nothing," the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said in a statement.
South Africa says its backing of Palestine stems from its own history of apartheid, oppression and rights abuses.
South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim recently expressed "concern by high profile and government institutions visits to Israel as it gives legitimacy to Israel occupation of Palestine land".
The trade ministry in May invited public comments on the labels, saying traders must put the tags on so consumers will "not be misled".
Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon charged South Africa’s move was proof South Africa was still an apartheid state.
"South Africa's apartheid is currently directed at Israel and miners in South Africa itself," he wrote on his Facebook page on Thursday.
"Instead of making decisions on marking Israeli products, the South African government would do better to reach brave decisions about the 34 innocent miners who merely wanted an improvement in their condition."
South African police last week gunned down 34 miners during a wildcat strike at Lonmin's Marikana platinum mine that had already left eight other workers and two policemen dead.
The Palestinian Authority on Thursday praised the decision to label settlement-made goods, and pledged to help the campaign.
"South Africa is making a good effort for us," Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Hafiz Nofal told AFP.
Nofal said his office was familiar with the local Israeli market, and warned that if a product was purposely mislabelled, the Palestinian Authority would seek to inform the South Africans in a move which would result in "a large fine."