Armenia recognizes Palestinian statehood; Israel summons ambassador for reprimand

Move follows similar ones by Slovenia, Spain, Ireland and Norway, with 145 UN member states now recognizing ‘State of Palestine’; statement affirms support for two-state solution

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, April 4, 2024. (Johanna Geron, Pool Photo via AP, File)
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addresses a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, April 4, 2024. (Johanna Geron, Pool Photo via AP, File)

Armenia declared Friday that it was recognizing Palestinian statehood, prompting Israel to summon the country’s ambassador for a dressing down.

The Armenian foreign ministry said in a statement that Yerevan supports a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and is “genuinely committed to establishing peace and stability in the Middle East and lasting reconciliation.”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said that in response to the recognition, the ministry had summoned the Armenian ambassador, Arman Akopian, to be reprimanded.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority welcomed the move. “This recognition contributes positively to preserving the two-state solution, which faces systematic challenges, and promotes security, peace and stability for all parties involved,” the Ramallah-based PA presidency said in a statement.

Together with Slovenia, Spain, Ireland and Norway, who also officially recognized a Palestinian state over the past month, the move brings to 145 the number of UN member states that have done so.

Israel has reacted with anger to the moves, calling them a reward to the Hamas terror group for its October 7 atrocities, in which thousands of terrorists killed some 1,200 people and took 251 hostages, initiating the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

Armenia’s Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting on the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, September 21, 2023, at UN headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Armenia’s statement began with a note about the war.

“The Republic of Armenia categorically rejects the targeting of civilian infrastructure, violence against the civilian population and the hostage-taking of civilians during armed conflict,” it said.

The statement did not explicitly assert that either Israel or Hamas had done any of those acts, although it identified Armenia as part of “the international community’s demands for [civilian hostages’] unconditional release.”

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 37,000 people in the Strip have been killed or are presumed dead in the fighting so far. Of these, some 24,000 fatalities have been identified at hospitals or through self-reporting by families, with the rest of the figure based on Hamas “media sources.”

The tolls, which cannot be verified and do not distinguish between civilians and combatants, include some 15,000 terror operatives Israel says it has killed in battle.

Israel and Armenia have full diplomatic relations, although the relationship is complicated by Israel’s alliance with Azerbaijan, which is involved in an ongoing military conflict with Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Israel sells weapons to Azerbaijan, which launched a lightning offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh last September, prompting a mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from the region, in what the Armenian government called a form of ethnic cleansing.

Azerbaijan also purchases weapons from Turkey, which Armenia associates with the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against some one million Armenians from 1915-1916.

A giant flag hangs in the Armenian Quarter ahead of commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in Jerusalem‘s Old City. (Melanie Lidman/Times of Israel)

Israel does not formally recognize the Armenian Genocide, although individual leaders occasionally refer to it, especially in order to criticize Turkey in response to diplomatic rows.

The country’s equivocal position on recognizing the atrocities has long been a sticking point for the community of ethnic Armenians in Israel, who number some 10,000 according to the Armenian government.

Israel is host to an ancient Armenian community that dates back to the 4th century, as well as a modern community founded by genocide survivors who came in 1915. There is also a small Armenian community in the West Bank.

The largest concentration of Armenians in Israel is in Jerusalem, whose Old City hosts an Armenian Quarter, and which has been the site of an Armenian Christian patriarch since the 7th century.

There is also an ancient but tiny Jewish community in Armenia, including one functioning synagogue that draws about a hundred worshipers on major holidays.

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