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Supreme Court: The Knesset Will Decide the Horses' Fate





Campaign against the Expansion of Racing in Israel

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Demo at Ministry of Culture & Sport

Speech in the Knesset

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Racing Cruelties:   The Horror Behind the Glamour

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Premarin Horses



Slaughter at
the Racetrack

Slaughterhouse: Exposé of Horse Slaughter in the UK






In the Supreme Court of Israel

A great achievement for animals has been accomplished in the struggle against the plan to introduce horseracing in Israel: on April 11, 2007, the State of Israel undertook, in the Supreme Court, not to permit horseracing for the purpose of gambling, unless primary legislation is enacted by the Knesset in this matter, and not to promote the industry before hearing the arguments of Hakol Chai's experts against the introduction of this industry. For the first time, the State is obligated to consider the animals' wellbeing before it considers the introduction of an industry that exploits them.


The background of the appeal

On July 26, 2004, The Social-Economic Cabinet (the ministerial committee for social and economic affairs) resolved to promote plans for the establishment of horseracing racecourses. A week later, the resolution was validated as a government resolution. The resolution stated that it is given "with the intention to allow horseracing for the purpose of gambling in Israel." The committee, comprising the Ministers of Education. Finance, Tourism, and Agriculture, did not consider the critical issue of the the fate of the horses in this industry.


Protesting and appealing

On April 13, 2005, Hakol Chai sent, through its lawyers Doron Radai and Nizan Gadot, letters requesting that the Ministers of Education, Finance, Tourism, and Agriculture rescind the resolution to set up racecourses for the promotion of this cruel industry, for two reasons: the resolution breaches the Animal Protection Law, and the fact that nothing had been done to examine animal rights and the harsh implications for their wellbeing, resulting from the said resolution. The resolution is illegal for these two reasons, wrote the organization. When this approach failed, and it seemed that more actions would be taken to promote the industry, Hakol Chai appealed on September 18, 2005 to the Supreme Court against the government resolution, through its lawyers and Professor Alex Stein.


Many committees, few relevant considerations

An inter-ministerial committee, formed by the government in 2005 "to examine the establishment and operation of a racecourse," retained the services of TASC (Tel Aviv Strategic Consulting Ltd.), a company that examined the economic feasibility of races in Israel. The committee did not publish the study's findings, nor the examined variables (for example, has the study considered the attraction of some of the low-income residents, in areas where these sites are planned, to the illusion of easy money from gambling). A meeting of the inter-ministerial committee was held on January 21, 2007 with the Minster of Agriculture, in which a decision was made to form a steering committee to promote legislation that would regulate gambling on horseracing, allegedly "with all professional aspects involved in this matter." This committee is comprised of representatives of several ministries. The only one relevant to the horses' wellbeing is the Ministry of Agriculture, which is responsible, and problematically so, for the enforcement of the Animal Protection Law. As proven in past struggles to protect animals, such as in the struggle against the force feeding of geese, the Ministry of Agriculture acts often as a rubber stamp that allows terrible and massive abuse of animals. This situation led to great concern that should the appeal to the Supreme Court be dismissed, the inter-ministerial team might continue with the promotion of the plan without considering the horses in the industry.





The State's response

The discussion about the appeal was postponed several times in 2005 and 2006. The response of the State Attorney's Office to the appeal was received on April 2, 2007, about a week before the hearing scheduled in the Supreme Court. These are some of the main points in the State's response:

  • The draft bill that will be written by the steering committee will be submitted to Hakol Chai, which "will be allowed to speak up and express its opinion." The State added a reservation, according to which "the appellant's position will be weighed in balancing the various interests involved in the matter."

  • The State "will not promote horseracing and gambling ... until the matter is regulated by primary legislation." This is the main and most important point in the response. In light of the arguments in the appeal, the State agreed that Knesset legislation will refer directly to the health and wellbeing of the horses participating in the races.

  • Finally, the response stated that "as long as the legal, economic, and professional issues have not been cleared and ruled on ... and on the backdrop of above statement …, the appeal is premature and theoretical and should not be ruled on."

Approaching the Supreme Court

Hakol Chai's lawyers litigated with the lawyers of the State Attorney's Office on the State's proposal until the moment the Supreme Court of Justice started its deliberations, on April 11, 2007, and finally reached an agreement, just before the beginning of the deliberation. The following quotations are two main parts of the proposal, and their significance:

  1. "The State will not promote horseracing and gambling … until the matter is regulated by primary legislation." In this statement, the State actually announced that the government does not now have the authority to establish the industry, and that the resolution of the Members of the Knesset (MKs) is required in this matter. The concern that government ministries only will be responsible for making the decision, critical for the horses, has diminished.

  2. "The appellant shall be given the right to speak up ... and the respondents will hear and examine the appellant's arguments and the experts' opinion on its behalf." This is a great achievement, since, regretfully, until now, when industries exploiting animals were established, the animals' voices were not heard and their suffering had no weight in the decision-making process.

Since Hakol Chai's arguments in the appeal were accepted by the State representatives, the parties could reach an understanding on the specific issues. The Justices of the Supreme Court who dealt with the appeal (Elyakim Rubinstein, Eliezer Rivlin and Uzi Fogleman) accepted the understanding, validated it as a verdict, and the appeal was stricken off. For the time being, the struggle leaves the Court's arena and moves to the Knesset.


The continuation of the struggle depends on all of us!

The results of the legal procedure are positive. Our public activity is now more important than ever, educating the MKs to understand the horrible impact the introduction of the horseracing industry into Israel will have on the horses. The representatives of Hakol Chai will continue their vigorous activity in the Knesset, but the horses also need your help. MKs are very much influenced by public opinion in these matters. Therefore it is tremendously important to distribute information to the public about the cruelty inherent in horseracing – and everyone can help here. If the public will express its objection to horseracing, and will especially refrain from coming to the races held for the time being on holidays, this will be an immense contribution to the struggle to prevent the horseracing industry from being approved in Israel. Demonstrations held by Hakol Chai in the past and recently caused the matter to be raised by the major media. If you have not yet joined the activities, this is the time!


Articles were published before the Court's deliberation in NRG, followed by Ynet and the Jerusalem Post