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Israel to Summon Argentine Ambassador Over Bombing Commission

Israel extremely disappointed by the decision to create a commission to investigate the 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/29/2013, 3:43 AM

Aftermath of AMIA bombing
Aftermath of AMIA bombing
AFP/File

Israel on Monday said it was extremely "disappointed" by Argentina's agreement with Iran to create an independent commission to investigate the 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires.

"The agreement between Argentina and Iran is received in Israel with astonishment and provoked deep disappointment," the foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by AFP.

The ministry said it will summon the Argentine ambassador to Israel and ask for "explanations" and that it had instructed Israel's ambassador in Buenos Aires to meet Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman to seek "clarifications."

“The Argentine authorities have pointed at Iran as the sponsor of the attack, and took the necessary steps with Interpol in accordance with their findings,” the statement said.

“Now, this recent agreement raises severe questions: it establishes a committee whose recommendations are non-mandatory, and it provides the country which all the evidence points at, namely Iran, with the capacity to delay indefinitely the committee's works," the Israeli foreign ministry said.

"It is doubtful whether this is how justice will be rendered."

Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Sunday said that her country and Iran had agreed to create a "truth commission" with five independent judges -- none of whom can come from either Iran or Argentina.

Kirchner said the agreement may allow Argentine authorities to finally question suspects currently the subject of Interpol "red notices."

Argentina has long accused Iran of masterminding the deadly attack and has since 2006 sought the extradition of eight Iranians, including current Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Iran has always denied any involvement in the bombing, in which 85 people died, and has refused to arrest the suspects.

The accord comes after several months of negotiations -- starting in October at the United Nations in Geneva -- aimed at resolving the pending legal actions.

The discussions have drawn criticism from both Israel and Argentina's 300,000-strong Jewish community, the largest in Latin America.

Both have demanded there be no let-up in the Argentine authorities' efforts to put the Iranian suspects on trial.

Argentina's Jewish community on Monday said it was “vehemently opposed” to the agreement between Argentina and Iran, saying that referring the case to a commission of this type was a denigration of the Argentinian justice system, which the community trusted to get to the bottom of the case.

In a statement, the country's two largest Jewish organizations - the AMIA and the Delegation of Israelite Argentine Associations (DAIA) – said that creation of the commission “would imply a decline in our sovereignty. To ignore everything that the Argentine justice has done and to replace it with a commission that, in the best of cases, will issue, without any defined deadline, a 'recommendation' to the parties constitutes, without doubt, a reversal in the common objective of obtaining justice.”