LOS ANGELES—The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region met with the Israeli Consul General in Los Angeles Dr. Hillel Newman on Thursday amid Israel’s continued sale of arms to Azerbaijan.
“In recent weeks, the Armenian community in the United States and throughout the world have expressed their deep concerns about Israel’s ongoing sale of military assets to Azerbaijan during Azerbaijan and Turkey’s campaign of genocidal aggression against the people of Armenia and Artsakh,” remarked Chair of the ANCA-WR Board of Directors, Nora Hovsepian, Esq. during a press conference that followed the meeting.
“This meeting served as an opportunity for us to convey our community’s concerns directly to the Israeli Foreign Ministry to explain why Israel – which like Armenia knows the horrors of genocide and the risks of appeasing genocidal dictators – should immediately end its military assistance to Azerbaijan,” added Hovsepian.
Consul General Newman also joined the press conference and presented the following statement:
The Israeli Consulate received a distinguished delegation from the Armenian National Committee of America. We discussed a sensitive situation. We, Israel, expressed our sympathy at the loss of innocent lives as a result of the ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I wish to stress that Israel regards both parties to the conflict, Azerbaijan and Armenia, as allies. Israel has not sided with one country against another. Israel calls for a peaceful resolution of this conflict. Perhaps Israel, as a country with friendly relations with both sides of the conflict, can assist in brokering a peace in the future. We believe that peace is attainable, and we hope for a peaceful resolution as soon as possible.
Israel is one of Azerbaijan’s main military suppliers. In 2012, Azerbaijan and Israel’s state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signed a $1.6 billion contract for the purchase of drones and missile defense systems. In 2016 after visiting Israel, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev announced a $5 billion weapons contract had been signed with Israel. Independent sources confirm that in the last 5 years, weapons sales between Azerbaijan and Israel have exceeded $800 million – making Israel Azerbaijan’s largest weapons supplier ahead of Russia.
Azerbaijan’s use of Israeli drones has been evident for many years. In 2016, international reports found Azerbaijan had deployed IAI suicide drones against Armenian targets in Artsakh. In 2017, an Israeli drone manufacturer Aeronautics Defense Systems halted its sales to Azerbaijan pending investigation into the live testing of suicide drones against Armenian soldiers – illegal under Israeli law.
During the course of Azerbaijan’s most recent act of aggression against Armenia, Israeli drones have been deployed extensively by Azerbaijan. Investigations have also revealed that an “air train” of cargo planes affiliated with the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense had departed for Israel, transporting weapons back to Azerbaijan both before and amidst fighting.
In response, Armenia recalled its newly appointed Ambassador to Israel who had only taken up residence weeks prior.
In a further development, Israel’s High Court of Justice recently rejected a petition to ban arms sales to Azerbaijan, “lacking evidence to justify a hearing on whether they have been used for war crimes against Armenia.”
Azerbaijan, with the assistance of Turkey, has perpetrated a litany of well-documented war-crimes against the Armenian people during the course of its most recent attempt at invading the Republic of Artsakh. Civilian areas in Artsakh including Stepanakert and Martuni have been subject to near constant bombardment since September 27th, with Azerbaijan deliberately deploying its arsenal of mainly Israel drones against civilian populations.
As a result of Azerbaijan’s bombardment of civilian populations, dozens have been killed and tens of thousands have been forcibly displaced. The targeting of civilian populations is considered a war crime under international law including the Geneva Convention.
Azerbaijan’s government has sought to consolidate its relationship with Israel on the grounds that it is a “country of tolerance,” despite its egregious track record on human rights and sponsoring of anti-Armenian hatred throughout all levels of Azerbaijani society. Azerbaijan has also referenced its small but deeply isolated Jewish community as a basis for the strengthening of ties with Israel – neglecting to mention the mass Jewish exodus from Azerbaijan during the 1990s after Jews were targeted during pogroms and ethnic cleansing of Armenians.
Despite its outward face of cooperation, Azerbaijan has repeatedly undermined the interests of Israel on the world stage. Azerbaijan is a close ally of Turkey, which has been increasingly engaging in bellicose rhetoric and military posturing that threatens Israel’s regional interests – particularly in the Meditterannean. Furthermore, Azerbaijan has recently committed to deepening its ties with Iran, having already sold Iran a 10 percent stake in one of its largest oil pipelines – bypassing international sanctions. Azerbaijan, unlike Armenia, has also refused to open an embassy in Israel owing to pressure from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Iran.
Israel’s continued transfer of weapons used by Azerbaijan against Armenian civilians is unconscionable. With the support of Turkey, Azerbaijan is seeking to continue the Armenian genocide their predecessor regimes began 105 years ago. The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region implores Israel take immediate action to end its support for Azerbaijan.
Furthermore, the Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region welcomes the support of our friends in the Jewish community in condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey’s genocidal aggression.
The Armenian National Committee of America – Western Region is the largest and most influential nonpartisan Armenian American grassroots advocacy organization in the Western United States. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the Western United States and affiliated organizations around the country, the ANCA-WR advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues in pursuit of the Armenian Cause.