(JTA) — The Dutch Senate has delayed its vote on banning ritual slaughter and will appoint a commission to study putting new standards for such slaughter into place.
Undersecretary for Agriculture Henk Bleker said Wednesday that he will appoint the commission to establish standards for ritual slaughter, including how long an animal can remain conscious, The Associated Press reported.
The upper house of the Dutch government froze the vote after a majority of senators expressed their objection to the ban on kosher slaughter, or shechitah. The measure had passed the lower house of the Dutch parliament in June.The Senate had been scheduled to vote on Dec. 20.
Proposed by the Animal Rights Party and supported by the anti-Muslim Party for Freedom led by Geert Wilders, the bill requires that animals be stunned before slaughter. Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter must be performed with the animal fully conscious.
Animal Rights Party leader Marianne Thieme said she would submit a new bill banning ritual slaughter to parliament if the current one is defeated by the Senate in January, when it is likely to vote on the measure.
The European Union requires animals to be stunned before slaughter but makes exceptions for religiously mandated ritual slaughter. Nevertheless, ritual slaughter is banned in Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
About 1 million animals are ritually slaughtered each year in the Netherlands, according to The Jerusalem Post, of which a few thousand undergo shechitah.