Thursday, 15 March 2007

Israel Parliament Rejects Armenian Genocide Bill

Israel's parliament on Wednesday 14th March 2007, rejected a
motion recognizing the Turkish mass killings of Armenians
dating back to 1915 as a genocide.

"Stop ignoring and rejecting the catastrophe of another people,
"MP Haim Oron, who submitted the motion, told the plenum before
the vote.

"We refuse to accept the turning of a blind eye to the Armenian
genocide," the opposition left-wing Meretz party MP said.
"We owe this vote not only to the Armenian people, we owe it
to ourselves, especially in a period where we are struggling
to prolong the memory"of the Nazi Holocaust of six million Jews
during World War II.

The motion was nevertheless rejected by parliament in a vote
of 16 against 12, with a low turnout by MPs. It would have
needed a second ratification if it had passed.

The issue of the Armenian massacre has been raised several
times in the past in Israel's Knesset, but there has never
been an implicit vote branding it as genocide. If approved,
Israel would have joined a growing list of countries which
have recognized the killings as genocide. It would have
marked April 24,the day when the massacres started in 1915,
as Armenian genocide memorial day.

Israel has close diplomatic ties with Turkey -- one of the
few Muslim countries with which it has relations -- and has
in the past steered clear of the recognition issue.

Oron told AFP he had been under heavy pressure from Israeli
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office and the foreign ministry
to withdraw his motion. "I have been under a lot of pressure,
but that is something any MP must face," Oron said. "Turkey
has been exerting its pressure everywhere.This is their right.
But they can not set the agenda of the Israeli parliament."

Government spokeswoman Miri Eisin said that Israel "did not
intend to place itself at the forefront of this issue, which
is being handled by the international community."

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