BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s government rejected Israel’s summons of its ambassador to explain the agreement signed between Argentina and Iran advancing the investigation of the 1994 AMIA bombing.
Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued Jan. 29 that the attack was suffered by its people and did not involve any Israeli citizens. It said the victims were mostly Argentines and included six Bolivians, two Poles and one Chilean.
“Argentina has never summoned an Israeli ambassador to demand an explanation over his government’s actions,” the statement said. “Therefore, the Argentine Foreign Ministry states that this summons to demand explanations on sovereign decisions of Argentina is an improper act that we reject vigorously and that goes against the traditional relations of friendship between the two nations.”
Also on Jan. 29, Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, who is Jewish, held a meeting with representatives of the AMIA Buenos Aires Jewish community centre and the DAIA Jewish political umbrella, and relatives of the bombing victims to explain the details of the memorandum of understanding signed with Iran. The parliaments of both countries must ratify the agreement, which creates a commission of truth consisting of five independent judges, none from either Argentina or Iran. Suspects may be interrogated by Argentine justice officials, but only in Tehran.
Timerman said later in a news conference that he told DAIA and AMIA “that the Commission of Truth will only produce a recommendation to the Executive, but not to the Judiciary, which will work with total independence.”
Local and global Jewish leaders slammed the agreement.
“The idea of establishing a ‘truth’ commission on the AMIA tragedy that involves the Iranian regime would be like asking Nazi Germany to help establish the facts of Kristallnacht,” said American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris in a statement. “It is offensive not only to the families of the 85 murdered and hundreds wounded, but to the entire Argentine nation, which for more than 18 years has sought justice."
“We are surprised that the Argentine government would team up with the Iranian government to seek out justice,” B’nai Brith International President Allan Jacobs said in a statement. “Given Iran’s deplorable judicial track record and its refusal to turn over those previously implicated in the bombings, there’s little reason to believe anything substantial will come out of this commission.”
Argentine lawmakers from opposition parties said they’ll vote against the agreement.
The pact was signed by the foreign ministers of the two countries on Jan. 27 in Ethiopia on the sidelines of an African Union summit in Addis Ababa.
Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird decried the agreement, citing concerns over its impartiality and noting “there is credible evidence to suggest that Iran was implicated in this act of terrorism.”
“We are concerned that it appears Iran will now be investigating itself,” Baird said in a statement.
“Iran’s ongoing support for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas and its incitement to genocide of the Jewish people are all well documented. Those affected by this incident deserve justice, and that is simply not feasible if Iran joins this investigation.”
In 2012 Canada listed Iran as a state supporter of terrorism in the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. It also listed the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code.
With files from Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf