Cows grazing .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday came out in opposition to a bill proposed by Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg and Likud MK Mickey Zohar that would have put a stop to the practice of shipping live animals from abroad for slaughter in Israel.
“The Committee voted in favor of abuse toward animals coming to Israel on ‘death ships,’” Zandberg said following the meeting. She said that the committee’s ״immoral decision” was “unjustifiable.”
The practice, Zandberg added, “causes suffering to hundreds of thousands of animals annually and has not managed to lower prices.”
The policy has been the subject of debate for a while, with supporters emphasizing that the animals are well cared for aboard the ship and that domestic slaughter reduces meat prices in Israel.
Those opposed to the practice have said that Israel should import meat rather than transport live animals.
Several have repeated Zandberg’s recent statement that the practice has failed to bring down meat prices as intended.
The issue was in the spotlight after the Agriculture Ministry on January 6 canceled a shipment of live cattle and sheep from Australia that was heading to Israel after the ship’s engine broke down on the first day of the journey.
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This left 13,000 animals on board the ship for an extra week during repairs, prompting an outcry from animal rights’ activists in both countries.
Whereas MK Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) told a Knesset panel in January that “the animals go through an agonizing journey during which many of them are injured and die,” Alison Penfold, the chief executive officer of the Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council told the Jerusalem Post at that time that the reality was “a long way from some of the suggestions.” She presented figures from the Australian Agriculture Department showing that from January to June 2015, 99.83 percent of the 29,113 cattle that left Australia arrived safely in Israel, while 49 died during the trip.
According to statistics provided by Anonymous for Animal Rights, 292,274 live animals were imported into Israel in 2015. Of that number, 2,900 went to the Palestinian Authority for slaughter.
Despite the opposition, the bill is expected to go up for a vote in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday.
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