Sunday, March 30, 2008


By Shahar Ilan, Haaretz Correspondent

27-03-2008 10:55:40

The Knesset decided Wednesday that a parliamentary committee will hold
an unprecedented hearing on whether to recognize the World War I-era
mass murder of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire as a genocide. The
decision to hold a hearing, which was proposed by Meretz Chairman
Haim Oron, was approved by a 12-MK margin. The government did not
oppose the motion. The Knesset House Committee will decide whether
the issue will be handed over to the Knesset Education Committee,
as Oron wants, or to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as
requested by Yisrael Beiteinu MK Yosef Shagal. The latter generally
holds hearings behind closed doors. Advertisement Oron wants the
committee to recognize the Armenian genocide, pointing out that similar
recognition has been afforded recently by the French parliament and the
United States Congress. "It is appropriate that the Israeli Knesset,
which represents the Jewish people, recognize the Armenian genocide,"
said Oron. "It is unacceptable that the Jewish people is not making
itself heard." The Meretz MK added that he raises the proposal every
year ahead of Armenian Genocide Day, which falls on April 24. Minister
Shalom Simhon, who represented the government in the Knesset debate,
did not object to sending the issue to committee. Simhon said the
Jewish people have a special sensitivity to the issue and a moral
obligation to remember tragic episodes in human history, including
the mass murder of the Armenians. Nonetheless, Simhon added that,
"in the course of time this has become a politically charged issue
between Armenians and Turks ? and Israel is not interested in taking a
side." Shagal warned that recognizing the killings as a genocide could
have repercussions for Israel's diplomatic relations with Turkey, as
well as the fate of tens of thousands of Jews who live in Azerbaijan.

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