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Israel Calls For Reinstatement of Thai Democracy

Foreign Ministry statement expresses concerns after army takes over government, promises to guard Israelis in Thailand.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/27/2014, 10:05 PM

Bangkok (file)
Bangkok (file)
Flash90

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Tuesday, expressing its concern over the military coup in Thailand last Thursday that granted army chief Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha "full powers of government."

"Israel holds Thailand’s constitutional democratic institutions and civil rights in the highest regard and hopes the military leadership will reinstate these at the earliest," read the statement.

The notice added that the ministry "will continue to closely monitor the situation on the ground, with a view to ensuring the safety of Israeli nationals in Thailand, and desires that all parties involved refrain from any form of violence."

"As a close friend of Thailand, Israel wishes for the swift and peaceful resolution of the current crisis and for a return to normalcy and stability consistent with democratic principles," concluded the statement.

The Foreign Ministry has already raised Thailand's terror threat level to "very high concrete threat" after the arrest of two Hezbollah-linked terrorists who were targeting Israelis last month; reportedly there are at least nine other Hezbollah terrorists at large in Thailand, which police have been searching for.

The US announced last Friday that it had suspended $3.5 million in military assistance for Thailand, about one-third of its aid to the ally, following the coup.

"We urge the immediate restoration of civilian rule, a return to democracy and, obviously, respect for human rights during this period of uncertainty," said White House spokesperson Marie Harf.

The coup has been accompanied by the banning of "political gatherings" of more than five people. The army chief warned "anyone who violates the ban will be subject to a one-year jail term, 10,000 baht ($307) fine, or both."

All normal programming by Thai broadcast media was also suspended, and key political leaders were arrested.

The coup follows months of instability and mass protests starting late last year, as tensions boiled over between opponents and supporters of allegedly corrupt and exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, over his sister Yingluck, then-prime minister. She was dismissed from by the Constitutional Court two weeks ago for "abusing" her post.

The division over Shinawatra is characterized by a division between rural support for the exiled leader and his sister, and urban opposition to them over alleged widespread corruption.