Athwart Iranian threats: Consolidating centuries-long Israeli-Azerbaijani friendship
    Pundits share their thoughts on a milestone event

    INTERVIEWS  31 March 2023 - 14:56

    Vadim Mansurov

    On March 29, Israel hosted a truly historic event - the opening of the embassy of Azerbaijan, which the two countries and two nations have been waiting for for more than thirty years. The opening ceremony held in Tel Aviv was attended by foreign ministers of the two countries Jeyhun Bayramov and Eli Cohen, the Azerbaijani and Israeli public, and representatives of science and culture. Later in the day, Israeli President Isaac Herzog met at his residence with Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov to congratulate him on the opening of the diplomatic mission and the appointment of the first Azerbaijani ambassador.

    What changes in relations between the two countries should be expected in connection with the launch of the Azerbaijani Embassy in Israel? Will contacts between our countries and nations strengthen at all levels? These and other questions were answered by Israeli analysts and political scientists in a conversation with Caliber.Az.

    A fellow of the Institute of Asian and African Studies of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an expert in Iranian studies, Vladimir Mesamed said: "The opening of the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan in Israel is an event that is difficult to overestimate. Our countries have consistently worked towards it, and, of course, the long-term absence of Azerbaijani diplomatic representation in our country has created some disharmony, and asymmetry, I might even say it hampered the development of Azerbaijani-Israeli relations. The current diplomatic act is the finalization of the processes of bilateral cooperation, which have been going on for a long time, and which both Azerbaijan and Israel need. We can now say that it has finally happened, and there is no exaggeration in that.

    The event is great and we take it very seriously, both Israeli President Isaac Herzog and current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have already spoken about it. The meeting of the new Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen with his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov also stressed the importance of the date. I would say that now certain ambiguity which accompanied our relations has disappeared, and we see that both countries are solving all issues themselves, independently, without looking back at their neighbours. I think that now that the alliance of our states, let's say, has legitimized our relations, and has gone through all the formalities, this cooperation will play a huge role in the South Caucasus region. Both Israel and Azerbaijan will follow their obligations to maintain this dialogue, to give it real substance. I hope that the coming years will promise even more development of this dialogue between the two peoples."

    Alexander Gur-Arieh, a political observer for the Israeli channel ITON.TV: "Two states saw a milestone event on March 29. I must say that Israel has always attached great importance to its relations with Azerbaijan, viewing it as a strategic ally and partner not only politically, but also economically. Trade turnover between Azerbaijan and Israel has been growing, and cultural relations are increasing. Israelis have been more active in recent years in going on tourist trips to Azerbaijan. And I very much hope that the opening of the diplomatic mission will give a new impetus to our relations and they will move to a higher level, and the friendship between our countries will only grow stronger."

    Rabbi Mikhail Finkel, a well-known Israeli expert on international relations: "I was honoured to be among those invited by the Azerbaijani ambassador to Israel to the opening ceremony of the Azerbaijani diplomatic mission. Everyone has indeed been waiting for this moment for a long time, both in Israel and Azerbaijan. The Jewish community in Azerbaijan was particularly looking forward to it. We were sympathetic to the fact that there were objective reasons for postponing this event. But finally, by the decision of the President of Azerbaijan, this happened. It happened although all was not so quiet on Azerbaijan's southern borders, despite the terrorist threat from Iran and the bloody attack on the Azerbaijani embassy in Tehran.

    A very charismatic, young, and energetic ambassador of your country arrived in Israel. The opening ceremony was held in the building of the large and beautiful Dan Tel Aviv Hotel on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, and Azerbaijani singers performed at the event, and Azerbaijani musicians on national instruments performed the best compositions from the national repertoire. There were many dear friends, and important guests, for example, Anatoly Haimovich Rafailov, a member of the Azerbaijani Parliament, my friend and teacher, the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan, also my friend George Deek, other well-known representatives of Azerbaijani and Israeli society were present. And everyone was genuinely happy, there was an amazing, unique atmosphere of brotherhood and unity. It was not just the opening of the embassy of one of the countries friendly to Israel, it was something more.

    I cannot fail to mention that two rabbis were present at the ceremony. Rabbi Zamir Isayev came from Baku and proclaimed gratitude to the Almighty for allowing us to live up to this wonderful moment. And all those present shouted "Amen". It was amazing...

    I believe that the opening of the embassy will provide tremendous opportunities for our countries to cooperate on all fronts and will facilitate all our joint projects."

    Israeli political analyst and historian David Eidelman: "For many years, when visiting Azerbaijan, Israeli delegations have asked the same question - when will there be a Baku embassy in Tel Aviv? However, they knew the answer... Azerbaijan was forced to manoeuvre between political forces because it needed the support of the Arab states on the Karabakh issue. But the time and political will of our states have made changes: Azerbaijan liberated its territories, and Israel signed the historic "Abrahamic agreement" with the very Arab countries of the Middle East. So our two countries have been working towards this day for 32 years, and it has finally arrived. The Dan Tel Aviv hotel was full of people, but the event was much bigger than just the people who were there. The presence of such personalities as the new Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov gave special importance to this event.

    We have many things that unite us. And it is not only a common enemy - even if there was no Iranian problem, we would have something to be friends for and to cooperate for. Azerbaijan and Israel are not only about cooperation in oil, gas and technology, smart cities, and so on - there are many other aspects, work on which will only expand. I warmly congratulate Azerbaijan and Israel!"


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