Argentina-Iran 'truth' body angers Jewish community and Israel
Argentina’s Jewish community and Israel have both reacted with anger to a decision by Argentina to set up with Iran a so-called “truth commission” into the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and for which Iran has long been blamed.
The attack on the AMIA centre remains the worst anti-Semitic atrocity since the Holocaust.
Argentina’s ambassador to Israel, Atilio Norberto Molteni, was summoned to the foreign ministry in Jerusalem yesterday and received a harsh diplomatic dressing-down.
A foreign ministry statement said Israel made clear its “astonishment and disappointment” at the Argentinian government’s decision to collaborate with Iran.
The latter’s responsibility for the bombing, in which some 300 were also injured, was exposed by an investigation conducted by the Argentinian authorities themselves.
The decision to have the truth commission was cemented at the weekend when Argentina’s president Cristina Kirchner signed the accord with Tehran.
In 2007, Argentinian prosecutors issued international arrest warrants for five Iranians and a Lebanese man in connection with the bombing. One of those sought is Iran’s defence minister, Ahmad Vahidi.
Iran denies involvement, claiming accusations against it are part of what it terms a “Zionist plot”.The agreement does not provide for the men’s extradition if the commission concludes they were involved in the bombing.
‘Message of weakness’
Israel said the apparent lack of resolve in dealing with terrorism sent a message of weakness.
Deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon said the decision was “like inviting a murderer to investigate the killings he committed”.
Argentinian food exports to Iran have increased dramatically in recent years, making Tehran a major source of much-needed foreign currency for Ms Kirchner’s government.
There is speculation that the agreement will open the door to cut-price Iranian oil and gas imports.