(photo credit: REUTERS)
The issue of livestock shipments returned to the Knesset’s Economic Affairs Committee on Monday after politicians and animal rights activists came out against the current policy.
Critics called the policy of shipping live cows and sheep by boat from Australia or Europe for slaughter in Israel animal abuse. However, those who support the policy say that the animals are treated well and that the policy makes fresh meat cheaper for local consumers.
Leading the initiative to ban live animal shipments were Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg and Likud MK Miki Zohar, though during the course of the meeting, they demanded from Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel that he set targets for reducing the amount of shipments.
During the committee meeting, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel said that he had invited the ambassadors from Australia and other countries which ship live animals to Israel for meetings to explain the importance of protecting animals during shipment. Still, he said, “They don’t have the power to influence what takes place on ships.”
Animal rights groups Anonymous for Animals and Let Animals Live sharply criticized Ariel, saying that the amount of live animal shipments have increased since he was appointed in 2015. “The agriculture minister talks of the biblical imperative to prevent cruelty to animals, but fails to place any restrictions on industries causing abuse,” the groups said in a statement.
They noted that 220,000 cattle and sheep were shipped to Israel in the first half of 2016 “on crowded ships for excruciating journeys that last three weeks.”
“The key to change is in the hands of consumers at every meal,” the animal activists said.
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Zandberg threatened that if Ariel doesn’t start making changes, they will have to create legislation instead.
She side that a more fitting term for “live animal shipping” would be “death ships.” On top of the “abuse” to animals, she added that the policy has failed to lower meat prices and could be have health implications.
“Shipping animals in this way could incubate diseases harmful to humans,” she claimed.
Committee Chairman MK Eitan Cabel called for a set of clear guidelines to oversee how animals are shipped to Israel, though he said that legislation would not be necessary. “We will work alongside the Agriculture Ministry so that the way animals are treated will change immediately without waiting around for a law,” Cabel promised.
He also called for those who would violate the guidelines to be “stripped of their licenses.” At the end of the meeting, it was decided that a team of members from the committee would compile recommendations on how to solve the problems associated with animal shipments as well as ways to better protect the animals on board.
The team is also meant to find answers to market and economic questions.
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