What is the deal with Armenia’s Recognition of a Palestinian state?

 

Why did the nation of Armenia decide to recognize a Palestinian state, and why now? And what implications does this have for both the Jewish community in Armenia and the Armenian community in Israel?

 

These are some of the questions I had after an announcement on Friday, which came seemingly out of the blue, from the Armenian Foreign Ministry calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the pursuit of a two-state solution. (Read more here

 

“The Republic of Armenia is genuinely committed to establishing peace and stability in the Middle East and lasting reconciliation between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples,” the statement said. “On various international platforms, our position has consistently been in favour of a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian issue, and we support the ‘two-state’ solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” 

 

Armenia is the 145th nation to do so over all and joins nine nations that did so over the past month. Azerbaijan recognized a Palestinian state in 1992.

 

While Israel and Armenia have full diplomatic relations, the relationship has been fraught with tension over Israel’s strong ties with Azerbaijan, which buys most of its weapons from Israel —weapons used in military conflicts with Armenia.

 

Even if this is just a jab at Israel for failing to recognize the Armenian genocide and for selling weapons to Azerbaijan, the decision came as a shock. Armenian reporters that I spoke with in Yerevan said there had been no debate on the issue in parliament. Chuck Holton, an American reporter who had just been in Armenia, said he hadn’t seen any anti-Israel protests during his time in the country.

 

Israeli influencers who have previously sided with Azerbaijan against Armenia on social media used this to bolster their stance. 

 

One tweeted: “I have said it many times, the true ally of Israel is Azerbaijan,” while Yosef Haddad said Armenia rewarded “the terrorist organization Hamas that committed genocide itself on October 7 in Israel, and recognizes a Palestinian state in their honor.”

 

“A moral stain that will not be removed… And now Armenia finds itself next to the Turks in the same list of countries that support terrorism, on the wrong side of history,” said, an Israeli Arab.

 

(Here is a live I did about the issue. Chuck Holton joins about 30 minutes in.)

 

Israel’s Foreign Ministry summoned Armenian Ambassador Arman Akopian.


Nathaniel Trubkin, who heads the Yerevan Jewish Home, a community uniting Russian Jews who emigrated to Armenia because of the war in Ukraine, said the Jewish community there is both shocked and divided.


“Our community is split in two: those who believe that this is a symmetrical response to the arms trade with Azerbaijan and others who believe that Armenia is losing its last chance to establish relations with Israel,” he told me. 


One theory floating out there is that perhaps Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan pressed Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to recognize Palestine—but in exchange for what is the question. 


This move comes amid reports in the Israeli press of increasing anti-Semitism in Armenia — reports disputed by Armenians who believe Armenia is the victim of a smear campaign by foreign governments to disparage its reputation.


“Individual cases of vandalism in the synagogue, which were reported in the press, do not affect our lives in any way. On the contrary, they make us stronger,” said Trubkin who does not believe the decision will negatively impact Jewish Armenians.


“We feel as comfortable as possible in Armenia. There are many mixed Armenian-Jewish families among us, which strengthens our position in the country,” he said. “Most of us in the Yerevan Jewish Home community immigrated to Armenia from Russia or Ukraine because of the Russian-Ukrainian war and mobilization. For various reasons, we chose Armenia and have never regretted it.” 


The impact on diplomatic relations concerns Jews in Armenia and Armenians in Israel.


“When will our peoples — Jewish and Armenian — realize that they are both on the side of good and need each other?” Trubkin said.


A major concern is how this decision impacts the Armenian diaspora, especially Jerusalem’s 1,700-year old Armenian community. Already tensions and violence had been on the rise since January 2023 with a surge in attacks by national religious Israelis against Christians and Christian establishments in Jerusalem and throughout. 


But will something like this, which made headlines in Israel today, renew tensions or, worse spark more violence?


To learn a little bit more about Armenia, check out the video below!

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