TEL AVIV (Combined Sources)–The Knesset decided Wednesday that a parliamentary committee will hold an unprecedented hearing on whether to recognize the World War I-era mass murder of Armenia’s by the Ottoman Empire as Genocide, announced the Armenian National Committee of Israel
The decision to hold a hearing, which was proposed by Meretz Party Chairman Haim Oron, was approved by all 12-members who attended the session. The government did not oppose the motion.
The Knesset House Committee will decide whether the issue will be handed over to the Knesset Education Committee, as Oron wants, or to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as requested by Knesset Member Yosef Shagal.
Oron wants the committee to recognize the Armenian genocide, pointing out that similar recognition has been afforded recently by the French parliament and the United States Congress. "It is appropriate that the Israeli Knesset, which represents the Jewish people, recognize the Armenian genocide," said Oron. "It is unacceptable that the Jewish people is not making itself heard."
The Meretz Knesset Member added that he raises the proposal every year ahead of Armenian Genocide Day, which falls on April 24.
Minister Shalom Simhon, who represented the government in the Knesset debate, did not object to sending the issue to committee. Simhon said the Jewish people have a special sensitivity to the issue and a moral obligation to remember tragic episodes in human history, including the mass murder of the Armenia’s.
Nonetheless, Simhon added that, "in the course of time this has become a politically charged issue between Armenia’s and Turks and Israel is not interested in taking a side."
Shagal warned that recognizing the killings as a genocide could have repercussions for Israel’s diplomatic relations with Turkey, as well as the fate of tens of thousands of Jews who live in Azerbaijan.
Armenian National Committee of Jerusalem representatives attended the session ad later thanked Oron for supporting the Armenian Cause.
Last year, the Knesset rejected a motion to discuss official recognition of the Armenian Genocide, to which Oron has said: "Stop ignoring and rejecting the catastrophe of another people."
The Armenian issue has been raised several times in the past in Israel’s Knesset, but there has never been an implicit vote branding it as genocide.