A protester holds an Armenian flag during a Gaza demonstration in LA

A protester holds an Armenian flag next to a placard calling for a free Palestine during a "Walkout to Fight Genocide and Free Palestine" at the University of California, Los Angeles on October 25, 2023.

(Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

'Powerful Symbolism' as Armenia Recognizes Palestinian Statehood

"This is a victory for right, justice, legitimacy, and the struggle of our Palestinian people for liberation and independence," said one Palestinian official.

Armenia on Friday became the latest nation to formally recognize the state of Palestine, a move that infuriated Israel but was hailed by human rights defenders—some of whom urged nations including the United States and Britain to join the overwhelming majority of countries in supporting Palestinian statehood.

"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 Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"On various international platforms, our position has consistently been in favor of a peaceful and comprehensive settlement of the Palestinian issue, and we support the 'two-state' solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," the statement continued. "We are convinced that this is the only way to ensure that both Palestinians and Israelis can fulfill their legitimate aspirations."

"Based on the foregoing and reaffirming our commitment to international law and the principles of equality, sovereignty, and peaceful coexistence of peoples, the Republic of Armenia recognizes the state of Palestine," the ministry added.

Palestinian officials applauded the move by Armenia, which they said is the 149th nation to formally recognize the state of Palestine.

"This is a victory for right, justice, legitimacy, and the struggle of our Palestinian people for liberation and independence," Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Secretary-General Hussein al-Sheikh said on social media. "Thank you, our friend Armenia."

However, Israel reacted angrily to Armenia's recognition of Palestine. A spokesperson for Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Armenian Ambassador Arman Akopian for what they called a "harsh reprimand" following the move.

Armenia and Israel have historically had generally cordial relations. However, in 2020 Armenia recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv over Israel's arming of its enemy Azerbaijan during fighting between the two Caucasus countries over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Armenians have also bristled at Israel's continued refusal to acknowledge Turkey's 1915-17 genocide, in which at least 600,000 and possibly more than 1 million Armenians were killed. Armenian Christians also face persecution by Israeli authorities and bigotry from Jewish supremacists in illegally occupied East Jerusalem, home to a more than 1,500-year-old Armenian community.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry's Friday statement condemned the targeting of civilians in Gaza, where officials say that more than 133,000 people—most of them women and children—have been left dead, maimed, or missing by Israel's 259-day assault and siege, which has forcibly displaced around 90% of the embattled strip's 2.3 million people, destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, and caused widespread starvation throughout the coastal strip and a famine that's killed dozens of people in the north.

The ministry also condemned Hamas' kidnapping of more than 240 Israelis and others on October 7—when over 1,100 people were killed during the Palestinian resistance group's attack on southern Israel—and demanded the hostages' "unconditional release."

Israel's conduct is the subject of an International Court of Justice genocide case brought by South Africa. International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant, his defense minister, as well as three senior Hamas officials including Yahya Sinwar, who leads the group, for crimes including extermination.

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