Knesset c'tee discusses Armenian genocide

MK Schneller warns meeting may lead to worsening of ties with Turkey; Rivlin: We have responsibility to not forget genocide.

Armenian genocide memorial in Lyon, France 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Robert Pratta)
Armenian genocide memorial in Lyon, France 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Robert Pratta)
The Knesset Education Committee was holding a discussion Monday morning on the Armenian genocide, just one week after a move by France's parliament to address the issue sparked a diplomatic crisis between Paris and Ankara.
Turkey denies that Ottoman Turks carried out genocide against Armenians in World War One, while Armenia has long sought recognition that the Ottomans killed 1.5 million ethnic Armenians.
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Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin told Army Radio Monday that the Knesset has been holding similar discussions for years, insisting that the move was not political or in response to any events in the United states or in France.
"As the Israeli parliament, as the Jews," Rivlin said, "we have a responsibility not to forget genocide."
However, he was clear that the discussion was not targeting Turkey. "We must say clearly that we don't place any blame on the current Turkish government or any Turkish governments for the past 50 years."
MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) criticized the discussion as irresponsible, warning it would lead to worsening of already strained ties with Ankara.
Israel must "do everything in its power to improve our relations with Turkey increase our integration in the Islamic Middle East. Opening another front with Turkey is irresponsible."
Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On, however, described a moral imperative to hold the discussion. As the Jews who also suffered genocide in the Holocaust, Gal-On told Army Radio Monday, "we have a moral responsibility to recognize these things."