BUENOS ARIES, Argentina -- Argentina's foreign minister, Hector Timerman, defended himself against accusations that he betrayed his Judaism by signing an agreement with Iran.
“I did not betray my Judaism in the pact with Iran because we are trying to solve the AMIA bombing case," Timerman said Monday during an interview with La Red radio. "The move was inspired by the deep humanistic tradition of Judaism and thinking always about the victims and the relatives of the victims.”
Interviewer Luis Novaresio asked Timerman how he could sign the deal with Iran, a country whose president has denied the Holocaust. The deal established a "truth commission" that allows independent judges to interview suspects in the bombing of the Buenos Jewish community center in 1994.
“I did not meet with the Iranians to discuss the Holocaust; I was with them to solve the AMIA case," Timerman responded. "If I will have the opportunity to talk with them about the Holocaust, they will know what my opinion is."
Timerman defended the dialogue with Iran and criticized the Israeli position on the issue.
"There are some sectors in Israel that are very close to the government; they do not want any dialogue. They want a military solution to the Iranian problem, and Argentina doesn’t believe in that,” he said.
The Argentinian Upper House is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to ratify the memorandum of understanding with Iran, followed by the Lower House six days later. Timerman will visit the Lower House on Feb. 26 a day before the final vote to defend the agreement signed last month.
A demonstration against the pact is scheduled for Friday in front of the Argentinian embassy in Herzliya Pituach, Israel. The protest was organized by the Facebook group Kehila Latina en Israel.
On Feb. 15, 300 people attended a protest rally against Argentina-Iran cooperation in investigating the AMIA bombing, which killed 95 and injured hundreds. No one has been tried in the case.
"We ask Argentine society’s forgiveness for wasting a great privilege that democracy gave us," Sergio Bergman, a lawmaker and Reform rabbi, said in a speech at the rally. "We have the first Jewish foreign minister, and that is why we say sorry."