'Jewish Lobby Behind U.S. Armenia Genocide Vote'

Pro-Israel activists manipulated Congress to damage Turkey, says London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Haaretz Service
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Haaretz Service

Jewish lobbyists contrived a U.S. congressional vote that labeled the World War One-era massacre of Armenians by Turkish forces as genocide, a London-based Arabic-language newspaper claimed on Saturday.

Pro-Israel lobbyists had previously backed Turkey on the issue ? but changed tack in retaliation for Turkish condemnation of Israel's policies in the Gaza Strip, the Al-Quds Al-Arabi daily said in an editorial, according to Israel Radio reports.

Israel and Turkey are traditional allies but ties took a downturn in 2009 when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israel's offensive in Gaza, in which some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

A crisis in diplomatic relations came to a head in January when when Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon publicly humiliated Turkey's ambassador in front of press cameras.

In his leading article, Al-Quds Al-Arabi editor Abd al-Bari Atwan curged Erdogan not to give in to the Jewish lobby's "extortion" tactics.

Erdogan on Thursday recalled Turkey's ambassador to Washington after the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee voted 23-22 to approve the non-binding resolution, clearing it for consideration by the full House.

"The decision of the Foreign Affairs Committee will not hurt Turkey, but it will greatly harm bilateral relations, interests and vision. Turkey will not be the one who loses," said Erdogan, speaking at a summit of Turkish businessmen.

Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said the vote was a boost for human rights.

The vote calls on President Barack Obama to ensure U.S. policy formally refers to the massacre as genocide, putting him in a tight spot.

In a telephone call with Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Wednesday, Obama emphasized his administration had urged lawmakers to consider the potential damage to efforts to normalize Armenian-Turkish ties, a senior administration official said.

At a news conference in Costa Rica on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she and Obama, who both supported proposed Armenia genocide resolutions as presidential candidates, had changed their minds because they believed the drive to normalize relations between Turkey and Armenia was bearing fruit.

Turkey, a Muslim secular democracy that plays a vital role for U.S. interests from Iraq to Iran and in Afghanistan and the Middle East, accepts that many Armenians were killed by Ottoman forces but denies that up to 1.5 million died and that it amounted to genocide - a term employed by many Western historians and some foreign parliaments.

Turkey regards such accusations as an affront to its national honor.



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