Reuters: Israeli Lawmakers Weigh Recognising Armenian Genocide



Dec 26 2011

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli lawmakers debated on Monday recognising
the 1915 mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as genocide but
were warned by the Foreign Ministry about further damage to frayed
relations with Turkey.

The issue has stirred deep emotions in Israel, where some legislators
have said the Jewish people, who suffered six million dead in the
Nazi Holocaust, have a moral obligation to identify with the Armenian
tragedy, even at the risk of a Turkish backlash.

No decision was taken by parliament’s Education and Culture Committee,
which said it would hold another session at a future date.

“I can say that at this time, recognition of this type can have very
grave strategic implications,” said Irit Lillian, a Foreign Ministry
official who addressed the forum.

“Our relations with Turkey today are so fragile and so delicate that
there is no place to take them over the red line, where we have been,
I’m sorry to say, for many months,” she said.

Ties between the two former strategic allies were strained by Israel’s
killing of nine Turks in a commando raid on a Gaza-bound ship in 2010.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel after the incident and
suspended military cooperation.

Israel said its marines acted in self-defence after an initial boarding
party was attacked.

Zahava Gal-On, a lawmaker from the left-wing Meretz party, said Israeli
governments have refused to define the 1915 killings as genocide
“for cynical, strategic and economic, reasons, connected to ties
with Turkey.”

Israel, she said, has a “moral and historical obligation … to
recognise the genocide of the Armenian people” and ensure the subject
is taught comprehensively in its schools.

The committee session was the first public parliamentary hearing on
the issue.

Last week, Turkey cancelled all economic, political and military
meetings with its NATO partner France after the French National
Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of a draft law outlawing
genocide denial.

Armenia, backed by many historians and parliaments, says about 1.5
million Christian Armenians were killed in what is now eastern Turkey
during World War One in a deliberate policy of genocide ordered by
the Ottoman government.

Successive Turkish governments and the vast majority of Turks feel the
charge of genocide is an insult to their nation. Ankara argues that
there was heavy loss of life on both sides during fighting in the area.

(Editing by Myra MacDonald)

From: A. Papazian

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