The Knesset Wednesday unanimously approved a proposal to review Israel's current laws regarding animal experimentation. Animal rights groups welcomed the decision and said they would now wait to see which Knesset committee would be charged with debating the divisive issue.
"I hope that no one here is of the opinion that we should allow experiments which do not save lives to continue," MK Israel Hasson (Kadima), chairman of the Animal Rights Lobby, said in a speech before the vote.
According to Hasson, the supervision that takes place today is too wide, and does not examine everyday activities in the lab. "It is worthwhile to investigate the supervision issue, to verify that current experiments do not cause suffering to animals, and use all available technology to limit suffering, but also to ensure that the experiments will be concentrated and supervised from start to finish."
Hasson said that the current method of supervision looks at too big a picture and fails to examine day-to-day happenings in laboratories. "It is worthwhile to investigate the level of supervision, to verify that current experiments are not causing suffering to animals and, furthermore, are utilizing all the available technology designed to limit possible suffering – we must ensure that the experiments remain focused and monitored, from start to finish."
MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) clarified his position on the subject, stating that "when we talk about experimenting on animals, this does not mean that we place animal life above that of human beings. He who does not care for animal life also does not care about human life.
"I do not feel that the establishment is doing all that is required of it to ensure that necessary experiments are carried out responsibly, under proper supervision and with minimal harm to the animal subject. The time has come for this issue to be dealt with in an organized, coherent manner."
'Lies wrapped in sad pictures of monkeys'
In opposition, MK Professor Arieh Eldad (National Union-NRP) slammed the catalyst to the renewed interest in the matter – an in-depth article published by Yedioth Aharonoth in cooperation with the 'Let the Animals Live group' as a "classic example of yellow, populist journalism, which tries to sell papers full of lies wrapped up in sad pictures of monkeys and that succeeds in fooling intelligent people."
Eldad added that he would be willing to accept the moral positions of people opposed to animal experimentation only in the absence of hypocrisy, "if they refuse to use any medicine or chemical compound or undergo any surgery which was developed through experimenting on animals."
MK Dov Khenin (Hadash), chairman of the Social-Environmental Lobby of the Knesset, said that there is a need for increased supervision over the Council for Animal Testing.
"This isn’t meant to bring about a situation wherein all experiments are banned, but rather to create a framework which will allow them to be more balanced," Khenin said.