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Poland's Kosher Slaughter Ban Unacceptable And Harms Jewish Life Says Israel

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(Adds Polish prime minister's reaction)

JERUSALEM, July 15 (Reuters) - Israel has criticised an extension of Poland's ban on kosher meat production, saying on Monday that it damaged efforts to rehabilitate Jewish life in a country whose large Jewish community was all but wiped out in the Holocaust.

Citing animal cruelty, Warsaw lawmakers on Friday rejected a government-backed bill that would have allowed slaughterhouses to produce meat in accordance with Jewish ritual law. The practice was halted last year by a constitutional court ruling.

Israel's Foreign Ministry called the vote "totally unacceptable".

"Poland's history is intertwined with the history of the Jewish people. This decision seriously harms the process of restoring Jewish life in Poland," it said in a statement.

"We call on the parliament to reassess its decision and expect the relevant authorities to find the way to prevent a crude blow to the religious tradition of the Jewish people."

The Holocaust almost eliminated Poland's Jewish community, Europe's biggest before World War Two broke out in 1939. Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz and Treblinka were located on Polish soil.

Some Polish Jewish groups have also said prejudice about their faith played a part in the anti-kosher measures.

Usually, slaughterhouses stun livestock before killing them, while kosher rites demand that an animal is killed by slitting its throat while it is alive and bleeding it to death. The halal meat consumed by observant Muslims is killed in a similar way.

The bill's defeat was a setback for Prime Minister Donald Tusk, who has sought to strengthen ties with Israel.

During a trip to Spain, Tusk described the Israeli Foreign Ministry statement as inappropriate.

"Especially the historical context is, to put it mildly, off target and is not applicable to the situation," he said. (Writing by Dan Williams; Additional reporting by Andres Gonzalez in Madrid; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Alistair Lyon)

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