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Erdan: Knesset not the place to mark Armenian genocide
'We have a moral obligation to remember the killings, but this is not the place' speaking on government's behalf, minister answers MK Oron's motion to formally mark Turkish persecution of Armenian people during WWI
Zvi Lavi

The Knesset plenum discussed the motion put forward by Meretz Chairman, MK Haim Oron, proposing that Israel officially recognize the Turkish massacre of Armenians during World War I.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan delivered the government's response to the motion, saying "I agree that it is our moral obligation. We have a moral duty to remember the killing of Armenians." Erdan then read aloud the government's response, which objects to commemorating the massacre in the Knesset.

Oron files the motion every year, as close as possible to the memorial day marked on the Armenian calendar, April 24th. The Meretz chairman discussed the matter with a delegation of Armenian representatives, clergy and civilians who were watching the Knesset's debate from the visitor's gallery.

"I say – let's create the parliamentary framework for the Knesset to discuss an issue I believe the Knesset must discuss," said Oron. "It is our duty to the Armenian people and to ourselves. There are those who say we should leave it to historians to determine whether it was genocide.

"There are Holocaust deniers who say exactly the same thing. They rely on alleged historical sources and say there are doubts regarding the numbers and figures of the Holocaust. Who else knows like we do that there are some things you must fight for. Exactly one year ago this motion moved to the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's table, and there it was buried. I propose that the Education Committee conduct a procedural discussion on it."

Minister Erdan's words were brimming with empathy for the Armenian people, but he also noted the

inescapable political ramifications in regards to Israel's relationship with Turkey.

"Israel has never denied the terrible acts carried out against the Armenians, and I am well aware of the intensity of the emotions given the number of victims and the suffering of the Armenian people."

However, he said, Israel's position is that "the study of the events must be done through open discussion, and backed by the historical data, not a political debate in the Knesset. Because of our understanding of the pain and suffering, and so that Israel does not become a side that deals with this from a purely political place, I ask that we take this issue off the Knesset's agenda."

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