Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Knesset committee recognises Armenian Genocide

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ISRAELI recognition of the Armenian Genocide came a step closer last week with the Knesset's Education, Culture and Sports Committee endorsing a proposal to officially recognise the tragedy.

Around 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by Ottoman Turkish forces during and after the First World War in a genocide condemned by the international community as a crime against humanity.

Following the resolution at a meeting called by Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon MK, committee chair and Shas MK Yaakov Margi called upon Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who himself has spoken of the need for Israel to recognise the tragedy, to back his words with action.

"It is our moral obligation to recognize the holocaust of the Armenian nation," Margi said.

Israel has thus far refrained from any official recognition of the genocide due to its complex relationship with Turkey. The two nations signed a reconciliation agreement in late June after six years of strained relations that followed Israel's storming of a Turkish ship trying to break the military blockade of Gaza, in which nine Turkish citizens who violently attacked the Israeli forces were killed.

Shortly after the pact was signed, Edelstein and other MKs called for the genocide to be recognised, with Edelstein saying at the time: "We cannot ignore, dwarf or deny this terrible genocide... We must disconnect current interests of this time and place from the difficult past."

Armenian National Committee (Jerusalem) chairwoman Georgette Avakian told the Knesset recently: "The Knesset and the President of the State of Israel must recognize the genocide of our people."

In April, a Knesset delegation, led by Knesset Deputy Speaker Tali Ploskov, visited Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan.

Australia is yet to formally recognise the Armenian Genocide.

Gareth Narunsky