Israeli Knesset Speaker Pulls Armenian Genocide Recognition from Agenda

By Lahav Harkov
Jerusalem Post – May 28, 2018

The vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide, in 1.5 million Armenians were murdered by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, was originally set for Tuesday May 29. The expected vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide was not on the Knesset’s agenda for this week as of Monday.

Knesset speaker Yuli Edelstein, pulled the item from the agenda to avoid an embarrassment to the Knesset, because it was unclear there would be a majority in favor. Edelstein has repeatedly voice his support for recognition over the years including last week.

The vote on recognizing the Armenian Genocide, after a motion to do by Meretz Chairwoman MK Tamar Zandberg was approved 16-0.

Zandberg accused Edelstein of putting politics ahead of morality, dismissing the Knesset Speaker’s words in favor of her motion. “Holding this debate with a historic vote to recognize is the right thing to do. Some preferred politics to doing the right thing,” Zandberg said at a Meretz faction meeting, Monday May 28. “The Knesset should do what it promised. This is a matter of historic justice.”

Recognizing the Armenian Genocide has the potential to anger Turkey and Azerbaijan. Tensions between Turkey and Israel are already high wth the countries withdrawing their ambassadors after Turkey supported Hamas when the terror organization tried to violently break through Gaza border into Israel earlier this month. However, Israel and Azerbaijan have warm ties and the latter’s proximity to Iran makes it at strategic ally, important to Israeli security. Azerbaijan is in an ongoing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Zandberg however, said that should not be taken into consideration.

Recognizing the Armenian Genocide, she argued “shouldn’t hurt ties with any country. This is a basic moral issue. We, the Jewish people know the value of recognizing national tragedies.”

The Foreign Ministry has not made any official statements about the Knesset recognizing the Armenian Genocide, including during last week’s vote, unlike previous years when it openly opposed such motions. However, a ministry source confirmed that ties with Azerbaijan are important and pointed out that last week both Edelstein and Zandberg said the matter of recognizing the Armenian Genocide should be discussed to its own, and not as a way to get back at Turkey.

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