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Israel won't discuss Armenian massacre

March 14, 2007 at 7:11 PM   |   Comments

TEL AVIV, Israel, March 14 (UPI) -- Fears that discussing the Armenian genocide would disrupt Israel's relations with Turkey led lawmakers to drop the issue Wednesday.

Voting 15 to 12, the Israeli legislature rejected a call by Knesset Member Haim Oron of the dovish opposition Meretz Party to discuss the massacre that next month will mark its 80th anniversary. Ottoman Turks have killed almost 1.5 million Armenians and deported more than 500,000 others then, Oron noted.

"Especially as a people who knew the Shoah (Nazi Holocaust) ... fought its denial, we must show special sensitivity to another nation's disaster," he said.

However Haaretz noted that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni wanted the motion killed because they feared a crisis with Turkey.

Oron said the Prime Minister's office had asked him to drop the subject and Livni, called him twice asking him to let go.

Health Minister Yaakov Ben-Yizri, who spoke on Livni's behalf, said Israel understands the Armenians' sensitivity, each side tried to proves its case, and Israel hopes they could have an open dialogue to heal wounds.

The Turks have been particularly sensitive to U.S. moves to recognize that massacre as "genocide."

Turkish Daily News noted that in the past month Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, Chief of the General Staff Gen. Yasar Buyukanit and a Turkish parliamentary delegation met U.S. Congressmen and administration officials to prevent a decision recognizing the Armenian massacre as genocide.

They argued such a decision would be a psychological victory for the Armenians, and a cause for claiming compensation and territory.

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