Israel summons Polish ambassador over kosher ban

Foreign Ministry, Warsaw: photo -
Foreign Ministry, Warsaw: photo –

Poland’s ambassador to Israel has been summoned to Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem to explain the vote in parliament, which upheld the ban on kosher and halal slaughter.

Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor confirmed to Polish Radio by email that Ambassador Jacek Chodorowicz met with officials on Monday in the Israeli capital in connection with the ban, which Israel has called “totally unacceptable”.

“Jews are now no longer allowed to meet one of the oldest and most important rituals,” Yigal Palmor said of an issue threatening to become a diplomatic incident between the two countries.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry also confirmed the meeting.

“Our ambassador to Israel was invited to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is an accepted form of diplomatic contact,” said Rafal Sobczak, deputy director at the press office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He added that Poland had yet to receive an official protest on the issue from Israel, however.

On Monday, Polish prime minister Donald Tusk reacted strongly to a statement by Israel’s foreign ministry, which claimed that the ban on kosher slaughter “seriously harms the process of restoring Jewish life in Poland” – by saying the Israeli response was “unacceptable”.

“In particular, the historical context used here is mildly irrelevant,” PM Tusk said.

In a rare show of unity, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland’s largest opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) said that he supported Prime Minister Tusk’s stand on the issue and demanded that the Israeli ambassador in Warsaw be summoned to explain the statement.

The kosher and halal slaughtering method, where the animal is not stunned before it is killed, is “cruel and nothing will convince me otherwise,” Kaczynski said.

Poland’s agricultural minister, Stanislaw Kalemba said in Brussels, however, that the government would challenge the vote in parliament last Friday, upholding a decision by the Constitutional Court in December 2013, which ruled that kosher and halal slaughtering methods were incompatible with Poland’s animal rights legislation.

Kalemba said there were “constitutional doubts” about the ban, pointing to articles in Poland’s constitution preserving the traditions of national minorities and religious groups.

Artur Nowak-Far, under secretary of state for legal and treaty issues at Poland’s Foreign Ministry appeared to try and diffuse the situation, somewhat, when he tweeted on Tuesday: “Polish law allows shehita [kosher slaughtering]. Restrictions apply to industrial scale slaughter of animals [by the kosher or halal method]”. (pg)