The Foreign Ministry has decided to declassify documents on Israel-Argentina relations between 1976-1982, when a military junta ruled the South American state.
Israel was known to have sold weapons to the Argentinian dictatorship while at the same time trying to save the lives of individually threatened Argentinians. The period has been under investigation by an Israeli panel of experts looking into the fate of Jews who disappeared under the military junta.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman yesterday declined to comment on the decision to declassify the documents nor to specify how many documents would be made public.
Dr. Ra'anan Rein, Head of the Institute for the Study of Latin American History and Culture at Tel Aviv University, said: "I'm happy and satisfied with the decision, though cautiously so, until we know exactly which documents are released, how extensive the publication and if the documents deal directly with the relations of a military nature that existed between the two countries."
So far, only the U.S. has published diplomatic and political papers from the period. The documents expected to be declassified by the Foreign Ministry are considered especially important since Argentina has yet to declassify any papers from the period.
Israeli diplomats who served in Argentina at the time said they were pleased. Herzl Inbar, a former ambassador to Argentina said: "This is a welcome decision and we have nothing to be ashamed of." Eliezer Talmor, a former deputy chief of mission said, "we have nothing to hide."
Atilio Molteni, Argentina's ambassador in Israel, welcomed the decision, calling it "very positive." He said: "Any step that leads to transparency in the relationship between two countries as close as Israel and Argentina is a positive step."