Azerbaijan’s parliament on Friday initiated the process of opening an embassy in Israel, making it the first Shi’ite Muslim-majority country do so.
“Azerbaijan is an important partner of Israel and home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Muslim world,” Prime Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement following the development. “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,” he added.
Last April, Azerbaijan opened a tourism office in Israel for the first time and signed a cooperation agreement. The month also marked the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between the two nations.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited Azerbaijan in October to discuss security and policy and foster defense cooperation.
Israel buys 40% of its oil from Azerbaijan, and supplied 27% of Azerbaijan’s major arms imports from 2011 to 2020, including 69% from 2016 to 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Both Israel and Azerbaijan see Iran as a threat.