An article in Israel’s Haaretz¬†writes that members of Israel’s legislature had met with the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives a week after the committee passed the Armenian Genocide resolution to advise on the future of the resolution:

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Two and a half weeks ago the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee decided to recognize the Armenian genocide – that Turkey had perpetrated genocide against its Armenian population. The harsh Turkish response to this decision, and the pressure exerted by Turkey, resulted in the decision to not bring it before Congress for approval, and this worsened the crisis even more. The Knesset, it turns out, was a party to the pressure.

A week after the House Committee’s decision, a meeting was held in Washington as part of the joint security dialogue between the U.S. Congress and the Knesset, led by Republican Senator John Kyle of Arizona and MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud). The MKs also met with the committee, and the representatives asked the Israelis what they thought of their decision; if they should continue with the process of recognizing the Armenian holocaust; and about the status of relations between Turkey and Israel.

Steinitz replied that cooperation between Israel and Turkey is very good. Regarding choosing between the issue of relations with Turkey and clarifying historical truth, Steinitz has no doubts as to which the Americans should favor.
“The massacres happened 90 years ago, during the Ottoman Period, but today there are only two Muslim countries that are partners in the war on terror, and who maintain joint efforts with the United States and Israel: Turkey and Jordan,” Steinitz said. “Turkey deserves a commendation.”

Steinitz added that Turkey made a suggestion that seems reasonable: to establish an international committee of historians, before whom both parties would open their archives.

Among the delegation of MKs was Meretz-Yahad Chair Yossi Beilin. When Beilin was deputy foreign minister in 1994, he told the Knesset plenum that what had happened was genocide; had aroused deep anger in Turkey; and had become the darling of the Armenians. Beilin also told the members of Congress that there is no doubt that there was a genocide. Still, he did not demand that they continue with the recognition process. Beilin noted that they have to consider the risk to relations with Turkey, as well as the fact that Israel has been drawn into this conflict.

The truth is that even before the Congressional committee’s decision, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan met with Steinitz during a visit to Israel, and ask Steinitz’s assistance in opposing the decision. Steinitz says that he mentioned this, of his own volition, to several congressmen. He believes that the Israeli position influenced the shelving of the committee’s decision. The Armenian holocaust will have to wait for a time when Turkey’s strategic importance declines.

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