Meretz won't delay Armenian genocide debate
By GIL HOFFMAN, HERB KEINON
10 June 2012
Knesset faction heads to meet, decide whether to postpone discussion on Turkey's genocide of 1.5m. Armenians.
The Knesset plenum may discuss Turkey's genocide of a million-and-ahalf Armenians nearly 100 years ago this week, despite Wednesday's planned release of a report by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Israel's interception of Turkish ships bound for the Gaza Strip.
Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On asked for the issue to be discussed in the plenum last week but it was delayed due to deliberation over the "Outpost Bill." When the Foreign Ministry asked her to wait another week due to the sensitivity of the comptroller's report, she refused.
Knesset faction heads will meet Monday to discuss the plenum's agenda for the week. They will decide whether the issue will be raised this Tuesday or Wednesday or delayed until next week.
Gal-On said she did not want to cause problems with Turkey and she wanted relations with the country to improve. But she said she believed the Foreign Ministry was using the comptroller's report as an excuse to avoid dealing with the controversial Armenian issue.
"Meretz leaders raise the issue of the Armenian genocide every year because Israel has an ethical obligation to raise the issue," Gal-On said. "It is wrong to connect the issue to the current crisis with Turkey. The report coming out is just a coincidence in timing and not a reason to not deal with the matter."
When Gal-On raised the issue last year, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon responded on behalf of the government.
Neither the Prime Minister's Office nor the Foreign Ministry had any comment on the Knesset's scheduled plenum discussion on the Armenian genocide.
One diplomatic official said that Meretz – which is behind this initiative and has been behind similar ones in the past – cannot be accused of trying to push Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman or Yisrael Beytenu's agenda.
The discussion is coming soon after Turkey decided to indict former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi and four other former top IDF officials for involvement in the Mavi Marmara incident, and after Liberman made clear last week that Israel had no intention of apologizing to Ankara over the affair.
Nine Turks were killed on the Mavi Marmara ship in May 2010 when they clashed with IDF soldiers while trying to break Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The official said that while attempts to raise the Armenian genocide issue in the past have been stopped, now no one had an interest in doing so.
"There are those who want to use the opportunity for some Turkey bashing, which would not be completely misplaced given the constant Israel bashing taking place in Turkey," the official said.
Since no one in Turkey has "put the brakes" on the Israel bashing taking place in that country, including the recent indictment, "there is no need to put the brakes on this either," the official added.