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Turkey says Israel recognition of Armenia genocide would be harmful

© AFP/File | The Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Nurhan Menugian lays a wreath during a ceremony at the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem's Old City, to commemorate the anniversary of the mass killings of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire in 1915

ANKARA (AFP) - 

Turkey on Friday said Israel would only harm itself if it recognised the Armenian genocide because to do so would undermine the special status of the Holocaust.

"We think that Israel putting the events of 1915 on the same level as the Holocaust is harming itself first and foremost," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy told reporters in Ankara.

He was reacting after Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday approved plans to hold a plenary debate on "recognising the Armenian genocide".

No date has been fixed for the debate.

Armenians have long sought international recognition for the 1915-1917 killings in the Ottoman era as genocide, which they say left some 1.5 million of their people dead.

Turkey -- the Ottoman Empire's successor state -- strongly rejects that the massacres, imprisonment and forced deportation of Armenians from 1915 amounted to a genocide.

"The events of 1915 are not a political issue but historical and legal," Aksoy said, without commenting further.

Some six million Jews were killed in the Nazi death camps during World War II.

Relations between Turkey and Israel have been tense in recent years and got worse after Israeli troops shot dead scores of Palestinians on the Gaza border and Washington moved its embassy to Jerusalem despite international criticism.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week compared Israel's actions against the Palestinians in Gaza to the Nazi persecution of the Jews.

© 2018 AFP