War between Israel and Palestine: which side is Azerbaijan on?
The Middle East is once again in turmoil: a new war between Israel and Palestine has already claimed hundreds of lives in a few days. Many in the region are asking the question: which side is Azerbaijan on? After all, Israel is one of the country’s closest allies, while Palestine is a Muslim country supported by Ankara, Baku’s closest ally.
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Almost from the first day of the fighting in Israel, several Azerbaijani online publications conducted polls among their readers to find out whose side they support in this war. The results of the polls show that almost two-thirds of Azerbaijanis support Israel.
Israeli Ambassador to Baku George Dick thanked the Azerbaijani people for the gesture of friendship. Baku residents bring flowers and also light candles in front of the Israeli Embassy.
Official Baku did not openly support anyone’s side. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry condemned the violence against civilians and called for early de-escalation.
According to political observer Haji Namazov, the sympathies of the overwhelming majority of Azerbaijanis are on the side of the Israelis:
“There is nothing surprising here. Israel is one of Azerbaijan’s allies in the successfully completed struggle for restoration of territorial integrity. Azerbaijan cooperates with this country in military and economic spheres. Azerbaijan is home to many Jews historically linked to this country. One of the most famous national heroes of the country is a Jew by nationality.
It would seem that there is also much in common with Palestine. Azerbaijan and Palestine are members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and both countries have a majority Muslim population. But everything is not so simple here. In social networks Azerbaijanis accuse Palestinians of supporting Armenian separatism in the days of the second Karabakh war.”
The expert answered JAMnews’ question about the neutral behavior of official Baku during recent events in the Middle East:
“Azerbaijani authorities did not openly support any side in this conflict. This is also understandable, as the country’s closest ally Turkey has historically supported the struggle of the Palestinian people on all platforms. Supporting one of the allies when the closest ally supports the opposing side is, to put it mildly, undiplomatic.”
“Israel has occupied Palestinian lands.”
But not everyone in Azerbaijan unquestioningly supports Israel. According to activist Rustam Ismailbeyli, the main reason for the new escalation of the 75-year-old confrontation is a maximalist approach of both sides.
“This conflict did not start yesterday. It is a new round of events periodically repeated since 1948.
Both sides have taken the ultimate maximalist approach to the issue. First, the Arab peoples did not want to recognize the existence of the Israeli state, and provoked wars, and in the last 20-30 years, Israel has made life difficult for Palestinian Arabs with its behavior.
Even the UN and other reputable international organizations recognize that Israel now has occupier status in some territories. They have appropriated Palestinian lands, repopulated them with their own citizens, trying to change the demographics.
While the two-state option used to be accepted by everyone as a serious solution to this problem, in recent years the Palestinian will can be said to have been broken. The main Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip, is completely surrounded by Israel.
The fact that today this conflict has escalated to a confrontation between the radical fundamentalist Hamas and the far-right government of Israel is the result of the processes of the past 30 years.
Today we have two facts. First, Israel is pursuing an aggressive, maximalist policy, and as a result there is little difference between the life of Palestinians and apartheid South Africans. Second, the Palestinian liberation struggle has fallen under the monopoly of the radical fundamentalist organization Hamas. These factors seriously disrupt the prospects for peace in the region, and create the very barbaric pictures that the whole world has seen in recent days.
Israel is seizing new territories, evicting Palestinians and settling them with its own citizens, and Hamas is responding with acts of violence. Israel does not leave these acts unanswered, and in turn bombs practically everything, including civilian infrastructure. Thus, the situation is only heating up,” Ismailbeyli said in an interview with Voice of America.