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.
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.
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The Armenian Genocide refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire
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.
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.
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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.
kw/sms (AFP, dpa)