Two weeks before the Humane Animal Bill comes up for a second and third reading in the Knesset, Industry, Trade and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has withdrawn his opposition to it.
The bill, initiated by Knesset Member Ronit Tirosh (Kadima),
prohibits the import, trade or manufacturing of fur or textiles that include fur from anywhere in the world.
Ben-Eliezer feared the bill would violate Israel's
trade agreements with Denmark, Canada, the US, Greece and other countries.
Earlier this year, French movie icon and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot urged Israel's lawmakers to support the bill and in a letter she sent to Ben-Eliezer about a week ago, she wrote, "Give Israel this chance to be a light unto the nations. Israel shall be applauded if this bill is voted in and activated but let it be accordingly known that the world is looking on and truth be told, if a nation is given a chance to act morally and declines the opportunity this would be more detrimental to the nation’s reputation for the world would know that you knew the truth behind the fur trade and choose indifference over morals.
"Please – do the right thing and support the ban on fur trade and an ethical future," read the letter, which was relayed to the minister through Let Animals Live and the International Anti-Fur Coalition.
To read Bardot's letter click here
On Sunday Ben-Eliezer met with Tirosh and Jane Halevy, who represented the animal rights groups. Bardot's letter was handed to the minister during the meeting.
"If in the past the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry opposed the bill due to intense pressure from friendly nations in which a huge amount of money is made at the expense of the animals, following our explanation on how millions of animals suffer because of the fur industry and the moral ramifications this entails, (Ben-Eliezer) said he would allow the legislation to go forward," Tirosh told Ynet.
"Israel, where the fur trade is meager compared to other countries, can send a historic message to the world. Israel can be the locomotive that leads other parliaments in the same direction," said the MK.
Halevy said Bardot's letter contributed to Ben-Eliezer's about-face, adding, "The fact that animals are being abused abroad for fashion and profit does not mean it can get a moral seal of approval in Israel."
Tirosh was forced to exclude fox fur from the bill, because it is used to make most streimels for haredi Asheknazi Jews and felt hats used by haredi Sephardi Jews.
In accordance with legislation passed in early 2009, European Union states are forbidden from importing, exporting or trading in dog and cat fur. Europe also restricts trade in seal products.
"MK Tirosh, the International Anti Fur Coalition, Let Live Israel and the local and global public have deep appreciation and gratitude for Minister Ben-Eliezer's decision not to impede the passage of the bill; giving hope to save the lives of millions of animals from the fate of the cruel fur trade," Halevy said.