(photo credit: Courtesy, Barak Bloch )
Just before a bill to ban the import and sale of foie gras was set to undergo a
Knesset first reading on Wednesday morning, ministers filed an appeal to bring
the legislation back to the cabinet late Tuesday night, a spokesman for MK Dov
Lipman (Yesh Atid) told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday evening.
bill, initiated by Lipman in cooperation with two animal rights groups, received
approval on Sunday in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation and was slated to
prohibit the trade of foie gras – liver originating from ducks or geese that
have undergone a forced-fattening process.
The Israeli government banned
the practice of force-feeding waterfowl about a decade ago after the High Court
of Justice deemed the activity to constitute abuse.
But the import and
sale of the product is still legal in the country.
Along with Lipman, 20
Knesset members from a wide range of political parties gave their support to the
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch (Yisrael Beytenu)
officially filed the Tuesday night appeal, an act that occurred as a favor for
Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir (Yisrael Beytenu), according to Lipman’s
spokesman. In the Sunday Ministerial Committee meeting all but three of the 13
ministers – Aharonvitch, Shamir and Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver
(Yisrael Beytenu) – voted in favor of the bill.
Lipman and his fellow
supporters now fear that the legislation will end up buried, the spokesman
“I am not pulling back the law,” Lipman said. “I believe in
the law. I believe it is the right thing for the State of Israel to do, and a
majority of ministers in the government agree. I came to the Knesset to make
positive changes in Israel. Taking a stand against the mistreatment of animals,
beings that cannot protect or defend themselves, is a core human and Jewish
value which I will always fight for – first and foremost for the animals
themselves but also to help make us better people, better Jews and a true light
onto the nations.”
In response to Lipman’s concerns, a spokesman for
Shamir stressed that “the [agriculture minister] values the issues that deal
with the welfare of animals.”
However, the consequences of the bill in
its current form could be severe, as European Union exporters of foie gras, like
Hungary, could potentially react by blocking Israeli agricultural imports, the
Also under retaliatory threat could be the import of
Israeli kosher meat, as several EU nations have already expressed concerns over
the kosher slaughter processes, the spokesman explained.
forbids the import of anything that has to do with that issue, they might block
the import of all the kosher meat from Israel,” he said.
spokesman stressed that Shamir agrees in principal with the goal of the law, he
said that the minister would like a discussion to occur first with professionals
from all of the relevant authorities – such as the Economy Ministry – before
coming to a final version.
Agriculture Ministry deputy director-general
of foreign trade Itzhak Ben-David, meanwhile, said that he does not think it is
suitable at all to adopt such a law. Ben- David, who was personally involved
with promoting the foie gras production ban in Israel a decade ago, said he felt
that prohibiting its import “will lead to some economic sanctions” –
particularly from Hungary or France.
Such a policy has no precedent thus
far and has only been passed in the state of California, he said. Implications
on bilateral free trade agreements with the EU could be disastrous, Ben-David
Anonymous for Animal Rights, one of the organizations that worked
with Lipman, said that its members flooded Shamir’s Facebook page on Wednesday
with comments against the appeal.
“Israel decided that the force-feeding
of geese and ducks is illegal abuse,” a statement from Anonymous said. “If it is
not legal to produce foie gras here, it is absurd to allow the trade of it. It
is unfortunate that the agriculture minister, in charge of animal welfare,
removed himself from protecting against barbaric abuse that should be done away
with, just to please some force-feeding Hungarians.”