Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and his Azerbaijani counterpart Jeyhun Bayramov during a joint press conference

TEL AVIV — Visiting Israel on Wednesday, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov thanked the Jewish state for supporting Azerbaijan during the 2020 war with Armenia.

“We are grateful to Israel for supporting the position of Azerbaijan,” Azerbaijani news agencies quoted Bayramov as saying after talks with his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen. He said that Jews were among Azerbaijani soldiers killed during the six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Bayramov was due to inaugurate the Azerbaijani Embassy in Tel Aviv during his visit.

Israel has long been one of Azerbaijan’s main suppliers of weapons and other military hardware. Those supplies continued even after Azerbaijan launched a full-scale offensive in and around Karabakh on September 27, 2020.

Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel in protest on October 1, 2020. According to the Armenian military, Azerbaijani forces heavily used Israeli-made attack drones and multiple-launch rocket systems throughout the hostilities stopped by a Russian-brokered ceasefire in November 2020.

Azerbaijani-Israeli military cooperation appears to have continued unabated since then. Nevertheless, Armenia sent a new ambassador to Israel in April 2022.

Last month, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with then Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. Israel’s Minister of Intelligence Gila Gamliel also underscored close security ties between the two countries when she visited Baku earlier this month.

Gamliel’s visit came amid heightened tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran. Iranian leaders have repeatedly warned Baku against advancing Israel’s geopolitical interests in the region and trying to strip the Islamic Republic of its border with Armenia.

A recent investigative report published by Israeli Haaretz newspaper has revealed  that more than 90 Azerbaijani cargo planes have landed at a southern Israeli air base over the past decade. The planes allegedly brought some $5 billion-worth of Israeli weapons and explosives back to Azerbaijan. In exchange, Israel received Azerbaijani energy and access to Iran — if Israel chooses to strike militarily at Iran’s nuclear program, it might use Azerbaijan’s airfields.

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