Environment minister joins other lawmakers in pitching for animal lovers’ votes

At conference organized by animal welfare groups, MKs from seven parties and a candidate for an eighth call for an end to live shipments of cattle, caging of poultry

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Calves on a live shipment from Australia to Eilat for fattening, prior to slaughter, December 2019. (Israel Against Live Shipments)
Calves on a live shipment from Australia to Eilat for fattening, prior to slaughter, December 2019. (Israel Against Live Shipments)

Lawmakers from seven political parties and a candidate for an eighth faced an online audience of more than 600 people on Sunday to outline their views on animal protection, in the run-up to the March 23 elections.

Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel (Likud) headed the roster of speakers invited by the not-for-profit groups Animals Now and Let the Animals Live.

Gamliel said she was waiting for the Justice Ministry to finish work on draft regulations published by her ministry in October that seek to ban wildlife trade for the fashion industry.

She also called for animal welfare to be transferred to her ministry from the Agriculture Ministry. Animal rights activists have long argued that the latter cannot protect both farmers’ interests and animal welfare at the same time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel walk on Ashdod beach on February 21, 2021, after an offshore oil spill caused damage along Israel’s Mediterranean coast (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

The New Hope party’s Sharren Haskel cited an amendment to the rabies law she implemented together with MK Miki Haimovich (Blue and White), which enables dogs and cats vaccinated against the disease who have bitten someone to spend their quarantine time at home rather than in a pound.

MK Sharren Haskel (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Many of the MKs present spoke of the need to end the caging of chickens and urgently advance legislation to stop shipments of live animals to Israel for fattening and slaughter. Six bills to halt such shipments were put forward during the current sitting of the Knesset amidst broad cross-party support, but failed to make it to the plenum.

Joint List MK Ofer Cassif described his visit to Freedom Farm, a livestock sanctuary in central Israel that educates the public about the realities of the meat and dairy industries.

Ofer Cassif MK (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“I learned to look into the eyes of animals used by exploiting, murderous and violent industries,” he said. Cassif said live shipments and the grinding of live male chicks not wanted by the egg industry had to be brought to an end.

The other lawmakers present were Ya’akov Margi (Shas), Eli Avidar (Yisrael Beytenu), Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) and Yorai Lahav-Hertzano (Yesh Atid). Another participant, Emilie Moatti, is hoping to be elected for the Labor Party.

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