(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel is watching the warming of Argentinean- Iranian ties with increasing
concern, but with no leverage to steer Buenos Aires’ foreign policy in a
different direction, Israeli diplomatic officials said Monday.
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could come to the Argentineans with fat checks or with oil, they would give our
views on the matter more weight,” one Foreign Ministry official
The official said the recent uptick in ties between Iran and
Argentina had to do with Argentinean economic interests and a desire to tap into
the Iranian market, as well as with a frustration at what the official said is
viewed there as Washington’s neglect of the
Argentinean-Iranian ties nose-dived following an Argentinean
investigation into the bombings of the Israeli embassy and Jewish center in
Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994 that led to an Interpol warrant in 2007 for the
arrest of five Iranians, including current Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi. Twenty
nine people were killed at the embassy blast, and 84 at the attack on the Jewish
Despite Iranian involvement in those attacks, ties between the
two countries, the officials said, are now on the rebound.
interpreted last winter’s avalanche of South American support for Palestinian
statehood as a result of Israel’s diplomatic neglect of the continent, the
Foreign Ministry official said that the neglect South American countries feel is
more from the US than from Israel.
The official said there is a
deep-seated sense among many South American countries, including Argentina, that
US administrations from both parties have for years not given them their due
According to the official, one way to get that attention is to
pursue policies inimical to America’s interests.
“This is a form of
populism,” the official said. “It is fun while it lasts. You can say and do what
you think without having to be politically correct.”
The official said
that Argentina also saw that other countries in the region, such as Brazil and
Venezuela, have both made inroads with Iran without paying a price, so they
should be able to do so as well.
According to assessments in Jerusalem,
popular Argentinean President Cristina Kirchner is driving a policy increasingly
aligning her country with Venezuela and Hugo Chavez. As it does so, Venezuela’s
friends, such as Iran and Belarus, are seen in Argentina in a different
The official said that neither Argentina nor Iran can disregard
the twin bombings of Jewish targets in the early 1990s, but that both sides are
interested in getting around the issue and moving forward on bilateral
This, in turn, has placed pressure on the Israeli-Argentinean
Earlier this year, Israel almost canceled the planned visit
of Argentinean Foreign Minister Hector Timerman after an Argentinean tabloid
reported that Timerman told Syrian President Bashar Assad that his country
offered to drop probes of the bombings of the Jewish targets in exchange for
improved financial ties with Iran.
Timerman, in a testy press conference
in Jerusalem in April, denied the allegations.