The Azerbaijani parliament made the historic decision on Friday to open an embassy of Azerbaijan in Tel Aviv, Israel (not Jerusalem, baby steps). This will be the first embassy in Israel of a country with a Shi’ite majority and a Shi’ite government.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said, “I welcome the decision by the National Assembly of Azerbaijan to open an embassy in Israel. Azerbaijan is an important partner of Israel and home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Muslim world.
“The decision to open an embassy reflects the depth of the relationship between our countries. This move is the result of the Israeli government’s efforts to build strong diplomatic bridges with the Muslim world. I want to thank President Ilham Aliyev and congratulate the Azeri people who will now be represented for the first time in the State of Israel.”
Azerbaijan has been engaged in an on-again, off-again war with its neighbor Armenia since the fall of the Soviet Union. The last major war between the two countries took place in the fall of 2020, but sporadic clashes between them continue to this day. A substantial oil producer, Azerbaijan is one of Israel’s security industry’s best clients. Since the year 2000, when the two countries signed their first defense cooperation agreements, Azerbaijan has relied on Israel for much of its security needs, including aircraft, guns, tanks, and anti-personnel weapons.
Both Israel and Azerbaijan share an existential fear regarding Iran’s aggression, but, of course, sharing a border with the Islamic Republic has made the Azeris even more anxious. It is rumored that Israel maintains an IAF airport near Azerbaijan’s border with Iran, to support a future Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear war program.
The Azeri media recently reported a statement by a member of parliament, who claimed a decision had been reached in principle to open an embassy in Israel, but there may be technical delays to the move. In early October, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Azerbaijan for strategic talks.