Genocide vote infuriating Turkey pulled from Israeli parliament’s agenda

Genocide vote infuriating Turkey pulled from Israeli parliament’s agenda

Genocide vote infuriating Turkey pulled from Israeli parliament’s agenda

The expected vote on recognizing the killings of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as a “genocide” was removed from the Knesset’s agenda for the week as of May 29, Israeli media has reported. 

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein pulled the item from the agenda, his spokeswoman said, in order “to avoid an embarrassment to the Knesset, because it was unclear there would be a majority in favor.”

Edelstein has repeatedly voiced his support for recognition over the years, including last week, the daily Jerusalem Post reported.

The vote on recognizing the killings as “genocide” was set for May 29, after a motion to do so 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 May 28. “The Knesset should do what it promised. This is a matter of historic justice.”

Turkey, on the other hand, slammed the vote before it could happen.

A motion by Israeli lawmakers on recognizing the Armenian “genocide” will harm Israel itself, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hami Aksoy said in a press conference on May 25.

“Such an attempt by Israel is disrespect to members of Ottoman religious and ethnic groups who lost their lives in World War One. Jews were among them,” Aksoy said.

“The fact that Israel sees the events of 1915 and the Holocaust the same will hurt itself first,” he added, suggesting that the issue should be discussed by historians and legal experts.

Tensions between Israel and Turkey are already high, with the countries withdrawing their ambassadors after Turkey sided with the Palestinians when Israeli army gunfire killed at least 65 Palestinian civilians on May 14.

The violence on the Gaza border that resulted in the deaths of Palestinians 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 Israeli Foreign Ministry has not made any official statements about the Knesset recognizing the killings as “genocide” including during last week’s vote, unlike in previous years, when it openly opposed such motions.

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.

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