1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Israel freezes work on 'Armenian genocide' bill

June 3, 2018

An Israeli legislative debate on recognizing the Armenian genocide has been postponed. It follows Turkey's comparison of Israel's action against Palestinians in Gaza to Nazi persecution of the Jews.

An emaciated woman looks up from the ground
Image: picture alliance/CPA Media Co. Ltd

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday postponed the planned debate after Israel's Foreign Ministry recommended it should be delayed until after Turkish elections planned for June 24. The discussion "would likely help Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the elections," according to the Foreign Ministry.

The delay came as relations between Israel and Turkey continued a downward spiral after Erdogan called Israel a "terror state" and compared its actions against Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of Jews.

Read more: Israel-Gaza border: Protests turn fatal

Dead Armenians lying in rows in a group of trees
The Armenian Genocide refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire Image: picture alliance/CPA Media Co. Ltd

Parliamentarian Itzik Shmuli from Israel's opposition Zionist Union slammed the Foreign Ministry's call for a postponement as "false and ridiculous." "If foreign ministries in the world would act in such a cowardly and utilitarian manner on recognizing the Holocaust, where would we be today?" he said.

Read more: Dutch parliament recognizes 1915 Armenian 'genocide'

Up to 1.5 million Armenians, mostly citizens within the Ottoman Empire, were killed at the hands of Ottoman forces during World War I. Almost 30 countries, including 14 EU member states, have formally recognized the mass killings as genocide. Denial of genocide is criminalized in several European nations, including France, Greece, Italy and Switzerland. Turkey, the Ottoman Empire's successor state, has always rejected the term "genocide," putting the toll at 500,000 and blaming their deaths on war and starvation.

The German parliament voted to recognize the Armenian genocide in 2016
The German parliament voted to recognize the Armenian genocide in 2016Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kappeler

An 'event,' or a 'genocide'?

Germany's lower house of parliament passed an Armenian genocide resolution in 2016. The decision triggered the start of a crisis in relations, including Turkey blocking German parliament members from visiting troops stationed at a Turkish air base.

Read more: New report details Germany's role in Armenian genocide

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

kw/sms (AFP, dpa)

Skip next section Explore more
Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Zelenskyy
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage