Israel gives no decision on ‘Armenian killings’
JERUSALEM - Daily News with wires
Hürriyet photoOver their prime minister’s objections, Israeli lawmakers yesterday began debating a proposal to recognize the “mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks,” with no final decision.
The discussion was unusually held in the Knesset’s education committee, described as the weakest committee in terms of its political weight. It can not make any political decisions. It can only give recommendations for educational issues or give advice on public debates.
A similar proposal was rejected by parliament in 2007, when ties between Israel and Turkey were warm.
But relations plunged into deep crisis last year when Israeli forces killed nine Turks in a raid on a Turkish ferry, part of an activist flotilla seeking to breach Israel's naval blockade of Gaza.
"We've been working on this for many years," Georgette Avakian of the Armenian National Committee in Jerusalem had told Israeli public radio. "Hope the time has come." In October, Turkey expelled the Israeli ambassador and axed military ties and defence trade. Last week, Israel cancelled completion of a 2008 contract to sell Turkey aerial surveillance equipment.
A parliamentary supporter of an Israeli memorial day for Armenian genocide claims - Zahava Gal-On of the left-wing Meretz party - said the changed diplomatic climate might mean that the measure gains support this time. "For many years, Israel's government has refused to recognise the genocide for cynical, strategic and economic reasons, connected to its ties with Turkey," she told the Haaretz daily.
"Now, given the state of relations between the countries, I can't rule out the possibility that the foreign ministry is exploiting affairs."
Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in orchestrated killings during the final years of the Ottoman Empire.
But the Turkish government strongly denies this, saying 300,000 Armenians and as many Turks were killed in civil conflict when the Christian Armenians, backed by Russia, rose up against the Ottoman Empire.
France's lower house voted last week to criminalise the denial of genocide claims in Armenia, prompting Turkey to suspend political and military cooperation.