BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
Prominent Israeli scholar Yair Auron filed an official request with Israel’s Foreign Ministry on December 21 asking for all internal documents on agreements and commitments undertaken by the State of Israel with Turkey and Azerbaijan not to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
The request sent by Auron’s attorney Eitay Mack to the Foreign Ministry, states that “official Israeli denial of the Armenian Genocide is tied to its diplomatic and military relations with Turkey, and in recent years to the relations with Azerbaijan.”
Prof. Auron’s request under Israel’s Freedom of Information Law explains that “Turkey has purchased from Israel training and military systems worth billions of USD. The arms deals included the upgrading of planes and tanks, radar and monitoring systems, missiles and munitions.” Azerbaijan has also purchased from Israel close to $5 billion worth of advanced weaponry.
In 2011, during Knesset’s deliberations on the Armenian Genocide, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Alex Miller, Chairman of the Knesset Education Committee, unequivocally ruled out the possibility of Israel recognizing the Armenian Genocide in order not harm relations with Azerbaijan — Israel’s “key strategic ally in the Islamic world.”
Prof. Auron’s letter also quotes from several leaders of the right wing “Yisrael Beiteinu” party stating that they will ensure that the Knesset does not recognize the Armenian Genocide. “Yisrael Beiteinu” is led by Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Arye Gut, a propagandist for Azerbaijan and spokesperson for the International Israel-Azerbaijan Association, has affirmed that “Lieberman is one of the architects of the Azerbaijani-Israeli partnership.” In an interview with RTV-TV, Lieberman announced that the Armenian Genocide “was a theoretical, disputed historical issue and that the lack of recognition was not necessarily related to Turkey, but primarily to [Israel’s] strategic relations with Azerbaijan.” Prof. Auron stresses that these arguments sound very similar to those who deny the Jewish Holocaust.
As an example of Israel’s close relations with Azerbaijan, Prof. Auron’s letter reports that “613 trees were planted” on February 26, 2016, “at the Chaim Weizmann (1st President of Israel) Forest, to mark ‘24 years to the Khojaly genocide,’ in memory of 613 victims, attended by MK [Member of Knesset] Avigdor Lieberman. Only Azerbaijan and Turkey mark this ‘genocide’ event. In recent years, official Israel has become a direct and indirect supporter of the purported Khojaly genocide claim. The battle of Khojaly took place in February 1992, in the midst of a cruel war between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno Karabakh province. There are several versions as to what happened there, including the number of those who perished, but one thing is not disputed among the international community — no genocide by its common definition took place there.”
Prof. Auron’s concludes his request from the Israeli government by stating: “one suspects that not only does the State of Israel ‘trade’ in the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but that it has taken upon itself real commitments on this matter, in agreements with Azerbaijan and Turkey.”
Consequently, Attorney Mack specifically demands that the Israel’s Foreign Ministry should disclose the following information:
1. “Any documentation of agreements, understandings, commitments vis-à-vis Azerbaijan and Turkey as to the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
2. “Any correspondence with Turkish or Azeri representatives on the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
3. “Any documentation of meetings or communications between the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Turkish or Azeri representatives on the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
4. “Decisions and position papers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as to the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, in view of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s objection.”
It remains to be seen if the Israeli Foreign Ministry complies with Prof. Auron’s legal request. Both the American and British governments, which have similar laws on requirements to disclose internal information, have responded to similar requests from their own citizens, making public secret documents on the Armenian Genocide. It would be understandable if certain portions of the disclosed documents were to be blacked out by the Israeli government for confidential reasons, to protect the identities of those providing the information or for national security reasons.