A policeman prevents people approaching the site of an attack on a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994
This picture dated July 18, 1994 shows a policeman preventing people approaching the site where a powerful explosion destroyed a building housing a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires. Israel on Monday said that it was "surprised" by Argentina's agreement with Iran to create an independent commission to investigate the attack. © Daniel Luna - AFP/File
A policeman prevents people approaching the site of an attack on a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994
AFP
Last updated: January 28, 2013

Israel surprised by Argentina-Iran deal

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 centre 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.

The ministry said it will summon the Argentine ambassador 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.

"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 Defence 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.

"We warned the Argentines from the start that the Iranians would try to set a trap for them and that they should beware," foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP earlier Monday.

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