Israeli Parliament brings up ’Armenian genocide discussion’ amid Turkey political turmoil

Israeli Parliament brings up ’Armenian genocide discussion’ amid Turkey political turmoil

JERUSALEM
Israeli Parliament brings up ’Armenian genocide discussion’ amid Turkey political turmoil

Israeli lawmakers on May 23 approved a motion to hold a plenary debate on “recognizing the Armenian genocide,” as relations between Israel and Turkey continue their downward spiral. 

While such a motion would not be considered an Israeli government move, it could worsen already tense ties with Turkey, which has accused Israel of “Nazism” over its killing of some 60 Palestinians on the Gaza border, Agence France-Presse reported.

Ahead of the vote on holding the discussion, Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing opposition Meretz party said the timing of her motion had nothing to do with the rise in tensions with Turkey.

“Time and again this issue has fallen victim to political disputes. Not recognizing the Armenian genocide is a moral stain on Israel,” Zandberg said.

A plenary discussion “would be a significant measure to the moral message Israel is sending the entire world,” she said.

The motion was approved 16-0, although a date for the plenary discussion has yet to be set.

Meretz has since 1989 tried to approve recognizing the century-old Turkish mass killings of Armenians beginning in 1915 as a “genocide,” with Israeli governments rejecting the efforts because of ties with Turkey.

Relations collapsed over the deadly storming of a Gaza-bound Turkish air ship by Israeli commandos in 2010, until a 2016 agreement normalized ties.

Violence on the Gaza border that resulted in the deaths of 60 Palestinians last week and the transfer of the US embassy to the disputed city of Jerusalem prompted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to lash out at Israel, accusing it of “state terror” and “genocide.”

Erdoğan also chaired a summit of Muslim leaders at which he compared Israel’s actions to the Nazi persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust during World War II.

Ankara recalled its ambassador to Israel before expelling the Israel envoy and consul general, with Israel ordering the Turkish consul in Jerusalem to leave.

The Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people were killed during World War I as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, with almost 30 countries to date having recognized the killings as genocide.

Turkey strongly denies the genocide charge, arguing that 300,000 to 500,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died in civil strife when Armenians sided with invading Russian troops.

Turkey, Armenia, Israel, genocide, Ottoman, World War I, Knesset