J'lem to duck row with Argentina over Iran probe

Buenos Aires responds angrily to Israel’s summoning of its ambassador to the Foreign Ministry over "truth committee."

By
January 31, 2013 01:51
2 minute read.
AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires

Argentine bombing. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Jerusalem said what it wanted to say about the Argentinean-Iranian agreement to establish a “truth committee” to investigate the 1994 AMIA bombing, and will now avoid getting into a nasty public “ping-pong” with Buenos Aires over the matter, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.

The spokesman’s comment came after Buenos Aires responded angrily to Israel’s summoning of its ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, where Israel protested the move.

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The Argentinean Foreign Ministry issued a statement slamming Israel’s protest, saying that summoning the ambassador was “improper” and “against the traditional, friendly relationship” between the two countries.

“The attack against the people of our country on July 18, 1994, did not involve any Israeli citizen,” the statement read. “The victims were mostly Argentines and included six Bolivians, two Poles and one Chilean.”

Israel’s position, as was made clear to Argentinean Ambassador Atilio Norberto Molteni, is that it was an interested party in the matter because the Argentineans themselves linked the 1994 bombing to a blast two years earlier at the Israeli Embassy, which killed 29 people.

One Foreign Ministry official said it was not clear whether Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, would meet with Israel’s ambassador to Buenos Aires, Dorit Shavit, who requested a meeting on the matter.

Officials in Jerusalem said that Timerman seemed to have assuaged concerns of the Jewish community in Argentina, whose leaders he met on Tuesday.

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After meeting with the two leading Jewish organizations on Tuesday, as well as with relatives of those killed in the blast, Timerman – according to Argentinean press reports – said that the agreement with Iran “does not ignore the local justice’ system’s investigation.”

Argentina itself has found Iranians culpable, and asked Interpol to issue warrants for the arrest of six officials, including Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi.

According to The Argentina Independent newspaper, the agreement, signed by Timerman and his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, on Sunday, outlines the procedure by which the Iranians will be interrogated.

The paper reported that the implicated Iranians will be questioned by Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral and Prosecutor Alberto Nisman, both Argentines. The interrogations will also be overseen by a Truth Commission consisting of five non-Argentine or Iranian legal figures, two chosen by each country and one agreed upon by both.

An Argentinean newspaper reported two years ago that Buenos Aires was willing to stop investigating the bombings in return for improved economic ties with Iran.

Timerman has denied that report.

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