THE HAGUE (JTA) — The Dutch Senate approved a deal to allow ritual slaughter in the Netherlands.
Tuesday’s vote came after leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities in the Netherlands signed off on a compromise with the government. A majority of the Senate voted in favor of the compromise.
The agreement signed June 5 allows ritual slaughter if the animals lose consciousness within 40 seconds of their throats being cut. After that they must be stunned — rendering the meat non-kosher and non-halal.
Representatives of the Jewish umbrella group NIK, the Organization of Jewish Communities in The Netherlands, signed the agreement with Dutch Agriculture Minister Hans Bleker.
The European Jewish Congress welcomed the ratification.
“This is a momentous agreement, and we hope this will serve as a paradigm and precedent for all countries in Europe and the European Union,” EJC President Moshe Kantor said Wednesday.
In December, the leader of the Dutch Animal Rights Party, Marianne Thieme, withdrew a bill that would have required stunning of all animals before slaughter. The measure had passed the lower house of the Dutch parliament in June 2011. A majority of senators had expressed their objection to the ban before its withdrawal.
Dutch law requires animals to be stunned before slaughter but makes an exception for Muslim halal and Jewish shechitah. The Animal Rights Party says that more than 2 million animals are ritually slaughtered each year in the country.
The European Union requires animals to be stunned before slaughter but makes exceptions for religiously mandated ritual slaughter. Ritual slaughter is banned in Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.