The Knesset’s new liberal caucus will hold its inaugural meeting Wednesday on
the subject of the alleged forced removal of organs from Chinese prisoners of
The caucus’s chairman, Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin
(Likud Beytenu), told the Knesset plenum that he was under Chinese pressure to
cancel the meeting. He said MKs had been pressured not to attend, because it
could lead to an unnecessary fight with China.
Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu has called improving relations with China one of the top priorities of
his current term. His office announced this week that he intends to make a
historic visit to China next month.
Feiglin spoke in the plenum at the
end of a debate about the government’s failure to officially recognize the
Turkish genocide of Armenians nearly a century ago. He said that Israel needed
to do what was right despite its diplomatic interests with China, just as it
needed to do so regarding Turkey.
“With the Mavi Marmara
ship, we went
from being the good guys to being the bad guys who have to apologize,” Feiglin
“That proves that when you put your interests ahead of your ethics,
you end up getting hit in the face.”
The debate on the Armenian genocide
was initiated by Meretz leader MK Zehava Gal-On, just as past debates on the
matter were initiated by her predecessors at the helm of the party.
is time for the government to officially recognize the Armenian genocide,”
“We have an ethical obligation as Jewish people not to
forget any genocide. It is wrong to tie this issue to the state of relations
The meeting took place at a sensitive time, because
Jerusalem is currently in negotiations with Ankara on compensation to the
families of Turkish terrorists who were killed after attacking Israeli soldiers
on the Mavi Marmara.
Additionally, there was a visit to Israel this week
by the foreign minister of Azerbaijan, a country that has fought with
Nevertheless, almost every MK who spoke at the debate said
Israel should formally recognize the Armenian genocide.
Yuli Edelstein (Likud Beytenu) noted that as a minister, he went to Armenia at
the invitation of the Armenian government and visited the Armenian Genocide
Edelstein’s predecessor, MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu),
recalled historical accounts of Nazi leaders saying that they could get away
with the Final Solution against the Jews because no one stopped the Armenian
genocide. Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson said he started an Israeli-Armenian
Friendship League this week.
“There have been many genocides,” Bayit
Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked said.
“We have endured the worst
of them. Why do we accept the government in Ankara not taking responsibility for
the slaughtering? We should insist on this, even if it is uncomfortable and does
not serve our diplomatic interests.”
The lone voice against recognizing
the Armenian genocide came from Yesh Atid MK Ruth Calderon, who warned that such
a step could endanger Jews in Turkey.
“We need to be sensitive and not
only right but also smart,” Calderon said.
The plenum referred the matter
to the Knesset House Committee for further debate.
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