Eyeing Turkish elections, Israel delays Armenian genocide debate

Netanyahu delayed a ministerial debate on recognizing Turkey’s massacre of the Armenian people as a genocide in order to avoid aiding Islamists in Turkish elections. 

By: World Israel News Staff

At the advice of the Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night delayed a ministerial debate on motions to officially recognize the Armenian genocide.

Netanyahu acquiesced to a recommendation from the foreign ministry to put off  a discussion of a bill that would verify Israel’s official recognition of the massacre of the Armenian people at the hands of the Turks as  genocide until Turkish elections are over because failing to postpone the debate and the passage of the bill “migh help Erdogan win the elections.”

Both Israel and recognition of a uniquely Armenian genocide are intensely unpopular in Turkey. For Israel to recognize the genocide would be to play into the hands of Erdogan who would play up the move and use it as a foil for consolidating support.

Erdogan has smartly played the anti-Israel ticket to garner support from large swathes of Turkey’s populace outside the large city centers who tend to be religious Muslims.

Israeli-Turkish relations are at a nadir

Relations between Israel and Turkey, which have worsened under Erdogan, soured dramatically in recent months.

US President Donald Trump’s decision in December to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was strongly opposed by Erdogan. He has compared Israel to the Nazi regime in the wake of recent clashes on the Israel-Gaza border in which dozens of Palestinians were killed trying to overrun Israel’s border fence.

The ambassadors and consuls general of both Israel and Turkey were expelled to their respective countries.

The Jewish state’s special role

Recognition of the Armenian genocide was raised by politicians on the Right in recent weeks in response to Turkey’s attacks on Israel.

Armenians have long sought international recognition for the 1915-1917 killings in the Ottoman era as genocide, which they say left some 1.5 million of their people dead.

Recognition of the genocide by Israel carries special moral weight for Armenians who identify with the Jewish people’s suffering under the Nazi regime.

MK Yair Lapid, who leads the opposition Yesh Atid party, on Saturday night scorned the government for backing down over the legislation.

Lapid said that failing to recognize the genocide is a form of “grovelling” before Erdogan, according to Lapid. He called on other parties both in the opposition and in the coalition to join his party in voting in favor.