Jerusalem (AFP) – An Israeli parliamentary vote scheduled for Tuesday on recognising the World War I killings of Armenians as genocide has been cancelled because of government opposition, the lawmaker behind the initiative said.
Last month the Knesset had approved a motion penned by Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing opposition Meretz party to hold a plenary debate and vote on “recognising the Armenian genocide”.
Turkey had expressed its opposition and to try to ensure the support of the governing coalition for her motion, Zandberg agreed to postpone the vote until after Sunday’s Turkish elections.
On Monday, it became clear that the coalition was still opposed to Zandberg’s initiative, even after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reelection.
“Despite the promises and delays and despite the Turkish elections being behind us, the government and coalition are refusing to recognise the Armenian genocide,” Zandberg said on Twitter late Monday.
“I am therefore forced to cancel the vote,” she said.
“Recognising the Armenian genocide is a matter of basic historical justice and morals, which the Jewish state should have been the first to recognise,” Zandberg said.
The Israeli foreign ministry would not comment on Zandberg’s initiative since it did not involve legislation.
It did however recommend the government postpone a vote on a bill to recognise the Armenian genocide earlier this month, over concern its advancement could benefit Erdogan ahead of the June 24 elections there.
Zandberg’s motion would not have been considered an Israeli government move, but could have worsened already tense ties with Turkey, which has accused Israel of Nazism over its killing of dozens of Palestinians on the Gaza border.
Meretz has since 1989 sought recognition of the century-old mass killings of Armenians by their Ottoman rulers as a “genocide,” with Israeli governments rejecting the efforts because of ties with Turkey.
Relations collapsed over the deadly storming of a Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship by Israeli commandos in 2010, until an agreement in 2016 normalised ties.
The Armenians say up to 1.5 million of their people were massacred during World War I as the Ottoman empire was falling apart, with almost 30 countries to date having recognised the killings as genocide.
Turkey strongly denies the genocide charge.