by Hillary Zaken
Discussion takes place as relations with Turkey are tenser than ever
On Tuesday, the Knesset marked the Armenian genocide with a special session to debate recognition of the genocide, as Israeli relations with Turkey continue to deteriorate.
The Israeli parliament has in the past refrained from public debates on the subject for fear of alienating the Turkish government, one of the Jewish state’s few allies in a hostile Middle East.
However, the timing of the discussion about the Armenian genocide, perpetrated by the Ottomans about a century ago, coincides with the release of the state comptroller’s report about the 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip, in which the IDF killed nine Turkish nationals, as well as the Turkish decision to indict senior IDF officials in absentia over the incident.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said that the discussion of the genocide, promoted by MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz), was not connected to the current strained relations between Israel and Turkey.
Rivlin also told Globes: “As Jews, and as human beings, we cannot ignore this issue and we must not turn away from our commitment to morality… As [a country] struggling in the international arena with Holocaust denial, we cannot deny the tragedy of another people.”
In December 2011, the Knesset Education Committee discussed the Armenian genocide for the first time. Gal-On, who also initiated that discussion, said then: “For years, Israel always took into account its relations with Turkey. That is the central issue in terms of recognition of the murder of the Armenian people, which has yet to take place in Israel’s Knesset,” according to Haaretz.
The Armenian genocide was the murder of between 1 million and 1.5 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire during and following World War I. Although the Turkish government denies that a genocide was committed, many international bodies recognize that it did in fact occur.Hillary Zaken
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