(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
A group of Knesset members led by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) has called on Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to transfer enforcement authority over animal
welfare issues to the Environmental Protection Ministry. The lawmakers’ letter,
sent to the prime minister on Thursday, follows his decision on November 25 to
establish a team that will examine whether the Agriculture Ministry or the
Environmental Protection Ministry should oversee the Animal Welfare Law. Since
the law was approved in 1994, the Agriculture Ministry has done so, but animal
rights activists and environmentalists argue that such authority should not
reside in an office that regulates farming interests. Agriculture Ministry
representatives, on the other hand, maintain that their office is the right
locale for animal welfare supervision, and that they have successfully
implemented many animal rights regulations in recent years.
enforcement in the hands of the Agriculture Ministry is like allowing a cat to
guard ice cream,” Zandberg said, upon sending the letter, calling the issue
“Those who should be in charge of supervising the law’s
enforcement are those who are committed to preserving animal rights and not the
interests of the animal food industry.”
In the letter, Zandberg and her
colleagues wrote that the Agriculture Ministry had failed to meet its legal and
moral obligations as a protector of animal rights, regulations had not properly
been implemented and inspections rarely occurred.
An inherent conflict of
interest affects the ministry’s ability to at the same time encourage
agricultural production and oversee animal welfare, they argued.
letter highlights recent animal rights violations that have occurred within the
food production industry, citing episodes at the Adom Adom slaughterhouse in
Beit She’an and the Soglowek slaughterhouse in Shlomi – in which undercover
investigators exposed abuse of cattle and poultry, respectively.
consider it necessary that the full powers of enforcement over the Animal
Welfare Law be transferred to the responsibility of the Environmental Protection
Ministry – to increase the efficiency of enforcement and for the welfare of
animals,” the letter concluded.