Israel Summons Argentina Envoy Over 'Truth Commission' With Iran

Jerusalem protests Tehran's involvement in 'truth commission' to investigate 1994 bombing of Jewish center, says Argentina sending 'message of weakness.'

The Foreign Ministry Tuesday summoned the Argentine ambassador to protest his country's agreement with Iran to investigate the 1994 terror attack on the Buenos Aires Jewish center that killed 85 people, and said that Argentina was sending "a message of weakness" in its dealings with Iran on the issue. 

The ministry’s deputy director-general for Latin America, Itzhak Shoham, conveyed Israel's astonishment at Argentina's decision to collaborate with Iran after Tehran's responsibility for the bombing had been cited by the Argentine authorities.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Shoham protested what he called the Argentine government’s unacceptable attitude toward Israel since Buenos Aires began talks with Tehran.

Shoham said the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish center resembled the one that destroyed Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires two years earlier; in that attack, 29 people were killed and 250 wounded.

Although Argentine investigators have mentioned the great resemblance between the attacks and the involvement of Iran and Hezbollah in both, Argentina has not responded to Israel's requests to be informed of the diplomacy with Iran, Shoham said. He said Israel has not been told of the way Argentina envisaged bringing the perpetrators to justice.

"A lack of resolve in dealing with terrorism sends a message of weakness," Shoham said. "Had Argentina dealt resolutely with the 1992 attack on the Israeli Embassy, the 1994 AMIA bombing might not have happened."

Earlier this week, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner said her country had agreed with Iran to jointly investigate the attack on the AMIA center. The foreign ministers of the two countries, Hector Timerman and Ali Akbar Salehi, signed a memorandum to establish a “truth commission” to probe the attack.

The commission will include international jurists to be selected by the two countries; none will be citizens of Argentina or Iran. A commission member will be permitted to meet with anyone mentioned in the investigation over the years, in Argentina or Iran, and question them freely.

The parties also agreed for the memorandum to be sent to Interpol's chief, who has been involved in the search for the suspects.

In the attack on the AMIA building, in which 85 were killed and more than 300 wounded, mostly Jews, a man of Lebanese origin is suspected of detonating a car bomb near the building. In 2006, after more than a decade of suspected cover-ups, Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman announced that Iran and Hezbollah had been behind the attack.

Bloomberg