Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday postponed the planned debate in the country’s legislature—the Knesset—after Israel’s Foreign Ministry recommended a delay until after Turkey’s general elections set for June 24.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry advised Netanyahu to postpone a discussion on bills to recognize the Armenian Genocide until after Turkey’s elections, the ministry said in an official statement Sunday, explaining that the discussion could help Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan get reelected, Ynetnews reported.
State officials noted that the prime minister had decided to postpone the discussion following a recommendation from professional sources, who said that raising the issue before the Turkish elections would help Erdogan’s campaign and unite the Turkish people.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation was supposed to vote on two bills to recognize the Armenian genocide on Sunday, one proposed by Knesset Member Itzik Shmuli (Zionist Union) and another by Knesset Member Amir Ohana (Likud), but the votes were postponed at Netanyahu’s request.
“That’s a false and ridiculous explanation. If foreign ministries in the world had acted in such a cowardly and utilitarian manner when recognizing the Jewish Holocaust, where would we be today? The Jewish state’s prime minister shouldn’t have to dance to Erdogan’s tune and play an active role in denying that people were massacred in concentration camp and marches of death, but should do what he should have done a long time ago,” Shmuli said in response to the Foreign Ministry’s statement.
“For the sake of all of us, we should put an end to this issue and it shouldn’t be linked to the relations with Turkey. It’s our moral duty,” Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein told Ynet in response to the Foreign Ministry statement.
Edelstein rejected the ministry’s recommendation, saying that “the Foreign Ministry’s response hasn’t changed for the past 30 years. There was no element of surprise here, but it’s something I have been trying to explain for years. In most countries, the the genocide that took place a little over 100 years ago wasn’t recognized by governments, but by parliaments.”
He added that “there are about 30 parliaments around the world, including the French congress and parliament, that have recognized the genocide. I believe the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, must make a similar move. The government always has diplomatic considerations, considerations in the area of bilateral relations with different countries. The Knesset must make the right, moral and obvious decision.”