WASHINGTON (Haaretz)–A Joint Security Dialogue between members of Congress and the Israeli Legislature, the Knesset, was convened last week, after which members of the delegation from the Knesset met with members of the Foreign Affairs Committee and discussed the committee’s decision to adoption H. Res. 106.
Led by the efforts of Senator John Kyle (R-AZ) and Member of the Knesset Yuval Steinitz (Likud), the meeting between the members of Congress and Knesset provided a forum for Israeli legislatures to lobby the members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee regarding their decision and future decisions on H. Res. 106.
During the course of the meeting, members of the committee asked the Knesset members for their thoughts on the committee’s decision to adopt the genocide resolution and if they should continue with the process of recognizing the Armenian holocaust. Issues regarding the status of relations between Turkey and Israel were also discussed.
Steinitz replied to questions regarding Israeli-Turkey relations by noting that cooperation between the two countries is very good. In regards to the issue of choosing between Israel’s relations with Turkey and clarifying historical record, Steinitz remarked that he had no doubt as to which the Americans should favor.
"The massacres happened 90 years ago, during the Ottoman Period, but today there are only two Muslim countries that are partners in the war on terror, and who maintain joint efforts with the United States and Israel: Turkey and Jordan," Steinitz said. "Turkey deserves a commendation."
Steinitz added that Turkey made a suggestion that seems reasonable: to establish an international committee of historians, before whom both parties
would open their archives.
Among the delegation from the Knesset was Yossi Beilin, chair of the Meretz-Yahad party and former Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel. During his tenure as Deputy Foreign Minister in 1994, Beilin told the Knesset plenum that what had happened was genocide; had aroused deep anger in Turkey; and had become the darling of the Armenia’s. Beilin also told the members of Congress that
there is no doubt that there was a genocide.
However, he did not demand that they continue with the recognition process. Beilin noted that they have to consider the risk to relations with Turkey, as well as the fact that Israel has been drawn into this conflict.
Prior to the Congressional committee’s decision, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met with Steinitz during a visit to Israel where he asked for Steinitz’s assistance in opposing the decision.
Steinitz says that he mentioned this, of his own volition, to several
Congressmen. The Israeli position, he believes, influenced the shelving of H. Res. 106. The Armenian holocaust will have to wait for a time when Turkey’s strategic importance declines, Steinitz said.