After reaching an agreement with MK Dov Lipman that an Israeli ban on foie gras
trade would prohibit sales of the product in restaurants, Agriculture Minister
Yair Shamir and Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch lifted their
appeal against the Knesset member’s disputed bill on Thursday.
original bill called for the prohibition of both the import and trade of foie
gras – a liver product that is generated by forcefeeding ducks and geese – in
the Israeli market, and received the initial approval of the Ministerial
Committee on Legislation on June 9. The practice of producing the delicacy was
banned in Israel about a decade ago when the High Court of Justice deemed it
abusive, but the import and sale of the product remained legal.
days after the Ministerial Committee’s approval, and the night before the bill
was scheduled to undergo its first Knesset reading, Aharonovitch filed an appeal
against the bill’s passage on behalf of Shamir.
Although Shamir had said
he supported the principles of the bill, he stressed that he feared that
implementing such legislation could violate international trade agreements and
prompt foie gras-producing countries like Hungary and France to respond with
sanctions against Israel. He expressed additional concern that retaliatory moves
could potentially focus on kosher food bans, as kashrut practices have been
under negative scrutiny by certain European animal rights groups.
16, Shamir and Aharonovitch announced that they would be willing to remove their
appeal on the condition that the bill only prohibit trade – and not the import –
of foie gras. In response, Lipman had said he could not accept such a proposal
as it was still unclear whether personal imports would be able to be sold or
would be restricted to home use.
On June 26, activists from Anonymous for
Animal Rights – the group responsible for drafting the bill with Lipman –
protested outside Shamir’s home in Savyon.
If passed by the Knesset, the
new agreement would prohibit only the trade and not the import of the product,
but no one would be able to make money on the personal import of the item into
Israel, according to the agriculture minister’s spokesman.
This ban would
include sales to restaurants, but would still allow an individual person to
order foie gras online – as to not violate international trade agreements, the
spokesman said. Essentially, however, this decision would limit the possibility
of eating foie gras in Israel anyway, he added.
“The new format enables
the law to promote its humane and fitting purpose of preventing cruelty to
animals but without damaging exports and international trade agreements, and
avoiding the creation of a dangerous precedent on the subject of kosher
slaughter,” Shamir and Aharonovitch said in a joint statement.
formula matches the laws of the State of California launched by former governor
Arnold Schwarzenegger, but would make Israel the first country to ban the trade
of foie gras – though many others have also prohibited the delicacies production
at home. The bill is to come to its first Knesset vote this
Lipman congratulated Shamir and Aharonovitch for “recognizing
the importance in maintaining animal rights” and protecting those who cannot
“I insisted that it be forbidden to sell it here,”
Lipman told The Jerusalem Post. “This will minimize the import to close to
How many private people will import it just for their own
enjoyment? The goal was that it should not be part of our country at all and
that was for the most part accomplished.”
Activists from Anonymous for
Animal Rights welcomed the agreement made between Lipman and Shamir on the bill,
saying that Israel has finally “cleansed itself from force-feeding,” which has
long been a “symbol of abuse and moral obtuseness,” according to activist Hagai
“Israel has a large gathering of people who care about animals,
who were active in their determination to remove the resistance against the bill
in recent weeks,” Cohen said.
“We thank Minister Shamir for changing his
position and we call upon Knesset members to support the law also in the coming