A bill that sets down criminal punishment for selling human transplant organs or serving as a middleman and would allow "reasonable compensation" for losses caused by donating an organ was approved by a Knesset committee on Monday for its second and third readings in the plenum. The bill, initiated by the Health Ministry, received the approval of a majority of the members of the Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee. When it passes the plenum, it will put Israel on a long list of countries that turned such prohibitions into legislation and, it is hoped, halt the sale of transplant organs in which Israelis have been involved inside the country and abroad. The bill gives official recognition to Israel Transplant (the Israel Transplant Coordination Center affiliated to the Health Ministry), including the existing mechanism in which donations from living persons are approved by a ministry committee. This body is charged with ensuring that the donor and recipient are mentally healthy and preventing economic and medical abuse of the donor so he does not suffer harm by giving the organ (usually a kidney). The bill also sets down various mechanisms to encourage donation of organs from the deceased, including giving priority in receiving an organ for people who have signed an ADI potential-donor card and to a family that has agreed to donate organs of a deceased loved ones. It will also make it possible for outside institutions to give benefits and gifts to these donors. In addition, ADI will receive a annual budget for educational efforts to encourage organ donations. Health Minister Ya'acov Ben-Yizri said that the bill will "significantly advance" organ donations in Israel, which suffers from a serious lack of donor organs, while at the same time eliminating the morally objectionable phenomenon of trafficking in organs.