Foie gras trade prohibition passes in preliminary Knesset reading

Knesset approves banning foie gras in Israel, a bill proposed by MK Dov Lipman in conjunction with animal rights advocacy groups.

July 10, 2013 22:28
2 minute read.
Protesting foie gras trade and imports.

Protests of foie gras 370. (photo credit: Anonymous for Animal Rights)

The Knesset approved in a preliminary reading on Wednesday the passage of a bill that would prohibit the trade of foie gras in Israel.

Although the bill – proposed by MK Dov Lipman (Yesh Atid) in conjunction with animal rights advocacy groups – originally received a nod from the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on June 9, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch appealed the decision on behalf of Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir, who feared that a ban on the product’s import would cause trade retaliations from European countries that sell foie gras.

The practice of producing foie gras – a liver delicacy generated by forcefeeding ducks and geese – was banned in Israel about a decade ago after being deemed abusive, but the import and sale of the product remains legal today.

On Thursday, however, Shamir and Lipman came to a compromise, and the former agreed to lift the appeal with an alteration to the wording of the bill – namely, instead of prohibiting the import and sales, the bill would simply ban the trade of foie gras in Israel. Such a ban would allow for the personal import of the delicacy, but would forbid sales of the item to restaurants.

If the Knesset passes the bill in its first, second and third readings, Israel will become the first place in the world to ban the trade of foie gras within its borders, aside from the state of California.

In the preliminary reading, 59 Knesset members supported the proposal and 10 opposed it. After a discussion in its designated Knesset committee, the bill will be prepared for a first reading.

“I believe that this law will not only contribute to animals but also to Israel’s image in the world,” Lipman said. “It’s time to eliminate this soul corrupting food from Israel.”

Despite fears that enforcing such a law could have a negative effect on the kosher industry in Europe – which is already under scrutiny from some animal rights groups there – the European Kosher Slaughter organization and the European Jewish Congress have expressed support for the bill’s passage.

Anonymous for Animal Rights, the organization responsible for drafting the bill with Lipman, welcomed the results of the preliminary reading.

“We praise the Knesset members who spoke clearly and decisively against animal torture,” a statement from the group said. “It is encouraging to see that opposition to the abuse crossed party lines and ideological movements.”

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