TEL AVAIV–A top aid to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak was quoted by the Haaretz newspaper as saying Friday that the proposed debate in the Israeli Knesset on the Armenian Genocide was “not related to the government,” despite recent Turkish overtures that a visiting delegation was ensured that such a debate would not take place.
"Israel certainly recognizes the strategic importance of its relations with Turkey, but there are subjects and parliamentary initiatives that are not related to the government," Shalom Turbowicz said. "As a government, we have no interest in undermining our ties with Turkey."
The chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the Turkish parliament, Hasan Murat Mercan, has asked the Prime Minister’s Bureau to cancel a scheduled discussion in the Knesset on the Armenian genocide.
Mercan was in Israel this week at the head of a Turkish parliamentary delegation for talks with their Israeli counterparts.
Talks included discussions on Iran, the Palestinians and Syria, but the main issue the Turkish delegation raised was an upcoming Knesset debate on the Armenian genocide.
"The Armenian issue is very sensitive for Turkey," the visitors told Yoram Turbowicz and Shalom Turgeman, two of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s most senior aides, adding that, "We would prefer if this discussion would not take place at this time in the Israeli parliament because it may harm the relations between the two countries."
Turbowicz offered Israel’s official response, that the issue needed to be resolved between Turkey and Armenia in a professional manner, through the involvement of historians.
"I am convinced that Israel recognizes the negative implications this may have on ties between the two countries," Mercan said.