Knesset, in Nod to Turkey, Opts Not to Discuss Armenian Genocide

The Knesset decided yesterday to shelve a proposal for a parliamentary discussion on the Armenian genocide, in compliance with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's request.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had also asked for a removal of MK Haim Oron's (Meretz) proposal from the agenda of the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee. She said the discussion might destabilize diplomatic relations with Turkey, which denies responsibility for the death of nearly 1 million Armenians during World War I.

MK Oron said that before the vote, Livni called him twice to ask him to withdraw the proposal. "This inquiry is something we owe the Armenians, primarily at a time when we are struggling to preserve the memory of our own people," said Oron.

He added that he had intended the discussion to lead to a resolution by the Knesset acknowledging the genocide perpetrated against the Armenians by the Turkish security forces.

Prominent members of the Armenian community in Israel observed the vote from the Knesset visitors' balcony and expressed their disappointment with the decision.

Health Minister Yacov Ben-Yizri, speaking for Livni, said that "as Jews and Israelis we are especially sensitive to the issue, but over the years the subject has been transformed into a heated discussion that the two parties must resolve in order to truly heal the wounds of the past."

In his address, Ben Yizri did mention that the Armenians were "killed en-masse during the last days of the Ottoman rule."