Ephraim Sneh: Israel should support the Azeri formula in Nagorno-Karabach conflict
Israel has the moral standing to support the Azeri formula for Nagorno-Karabach: Territories for peace. Israel can’t be a neutral observer on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabach between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Israel is a strategic ally of Azerbaijan, Ephraim Sneh, former Deputy Minister of Defense, writes in the article Supporting the Azeri formula in Nagorno-Karabach conflict - opinion for The Jerusalem Post.
This strategic alliance is rooted in history. More than 600,000 Azerbaijanis fought against Nazi Germany in World War II. More than half of them never returned home from the battlefield. Azerbaijan, with its oil industry, played a crucial role in the effort of the Soviet Union to defeat the Nazis. There was no antisemitism in Azerbaijan. On the contrary, the Jewish community enjoyed religious freedom and tolerance there; Jews were equal to other citizens of this republic. In December 1993 I had the historic privilege to establish with Heydar Aliyev, the founding father of modern Azerbaijan, the unwritten strategic alliance between our two countries.
Azerbaijan aspires to be a secular, modern, enlightened independent state. Israel is the country that fully supports all the aspirations of the Azerbaijan people and government. After the COVID pandemic, more tourism, more cultural and academic exchanges, will follow.
The conflict in Nagorno-Karabach is about the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. In the early nineties of the previous century, when the Soviet Union was in fragmentation, Armenia took advantage of Azerbaijan’s weakness and Soviet backing and, by using military force, conquered Nagorno-Karabach and the adjacent regions, 20% of the Azeri territory.
One million Azerbaijanis, residents of these occupied regions and Nagorno-Karabach, became refugees in their country. The international community, since the ceasefire in 1994, has done nothing substantial to peacefully resolve the conflict. The principle that territory cannot be acquired by military force, enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 242, is not applied in this case. When it comes to Armenia, no one demands the end of occupation.
Israel gave the entire Sinai Peninsula it had held since 1967 to Egypt when the peace agreement was signed in 1979. In 2005 Israel unilaterally withdrew from the occupied Gaza Strip, evacuating 8,000 Israeli settlers. Even in according to the Trump plan, Israel has to withdraw from parts of the West Bank when an agreement is achieved.
After all that, Israel has the moral standing to support the Azeri formula for Nagorno-Karabach: Territories for peace.