Israel’s continued arms sales to Azerbaijan and its refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide still seen as obstacles
BY ARA KHACHATOURIAN
Israel and Armenia want to bolster and expand relations. Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Tuesday, after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu, said that such meetings will bring “new impetus” to Israel-Armenia ties.
During their meeting, the two explored intensification of trade and economic relations, expansion of the legal framework, the perspectives of implementing joint programs in the fields of information technologies, education and science, tourism and agriculture.
Reportedly, the two also touched on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution process, with Nalbandian briefing Netenyahu on the most recent developments on that front. Wider regional issues were also discussed, with Netenyahu expressing concern about Iran’s “attempts to establish a military presence in the region.”
“We’ll strengthen relations between Israel and Armenia in tech, cyberspace and agriculture,” Netenyahu, who is also Israel’s foreign minister, tweeted after talks with Nalbandian.
Nalbandian’s trip to Israel is considered important for advancing relations between the two countries.
Bolstering Armenia’s relations with Israel, which does not have an embassy in Yerevan, was also high on the agenda of a visit to Yerevan by Israel’s Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi in July when the two signed agreements on visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic passports and abolished double-taxation between the two countries—an issue being raised with United States administration officials as a next step in advancing U.S.-Armenia relations.
Soon after Hanegbi’s visit to Armenia, the Israeli defense ministry announced an investigation into an Israeli defense manufacturer, which allegedly live-tested its suicide drone, purchased by Azerbaijan, on Artsakh targets. The contract has been suspended until the investigative body of the Israeli defense ministry completes its probe on the matter, which if proven true, could place Israel in the middle of the Karabakh issue as a side to the conflict.
Despite the optimism over advancing relations between Israel and Armenia, Hakob Sevan, the chairman of the Armenian National Committee of Jerusalem spoke to Armenpress and cited Israel continued and growing arms supply to Azerbaijan as a potential obstacle in advancing those ties.
“We know that Israel continues to supply arms to Azerbaijan which carries out an anti-Armenian policy,” Sevan told Armenpress on Tuesday.
The Jerusalem ANC leader also pointed out another obstacle: Israel’s refusal to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Official Tel Aviv has often used the so-called “Genocide card” when its relations with Turkey have been frayed
“On the other hand, we have the issue of [Israel’s] non-recognition of the Armenian Genocide. We cannot rule out that the steps aimed at bolstering relations with Armenia are being done within the context of [Israel] not having such good relations with Turkey,” added Sevan in his interview with Armenpress.
The Genocide issue came up in Nalbandian’s discussions with Yuli Edelstein, the leader of the Israeli legislature, the Knesset.
Edelstein told Nalbandian his view that the Genocide must be acknowledged, but no concrete pledges were made that Israel would finally recognize the Genocide.
Nalbandian visited Yad Vashem, laid a wreath at the Memorial to the Holocaust victims and toured the Israeli national Holocaust Museum, where he left a note in its guestbook.
“The most important lessons that Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and Tsitsernakaberd in Yerevan tell us is that new genocides, crimes against humanity can be prevented only by combined efforts of the international community. It is the moral obligation of Armenians and Jews, the nations that passed through the horrors of genocide, to stand at the forefront of such efforts,” Nalbandian wrote in the memorial book.
During his visit, Nalbandian also visited the Jerusalem Patriarchate and met with Patriarch Archbishop Nurhan Manukian.