Knesset Panel to Reconsider Ban on Cloning

The Knesset Science Committee decided Monday by a 5-3 vote to reconsider an extension of the law that bans experiments in human cloning for the purposes of reproduction.

Committee members claimed that last week's decision to make the ban on cloning permanent - which was taken alone by committee chair Melli Polishuk-Bloch (Shinui) - contradicts the position of both the cabinet and experts, who propose that the ban take the form of a five-year moratorium.

MK Polishuk-Bloch was the only committee member in attendance when the vote was held last week. Polishuk-Bloch expressed her anger at that time at the fact that no other committee member deemed it necessary to attend. Tuesday, eight of the 13 committee members were in attendance.

Although MK Lea Ness (Likud) had not attended any of the three Science Committee meetings dealing with the human cloning law, she claimed that the extension of the law was passed "by ambush," and demanded that discussion of the matter be reopened. Ness called Polishuk-Bloch's decision "sick."

In response, Polishuk-Bloch said: "If Ness had attended the committee meetings, she would see that the culture of discussion in the committee is completely different from that to which she is accustomed in the Likud Central Committee."

The temporary ban on cloning for reproductive purposes, passed in 1998, expired at the beginning of January.