Argentina's Congress approved an agreement with Iran to jointly investigate the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish Community Center.
The legislative body's Lower House early on Thursday approved the bill establishing the joint program with 131 votes in favor and 113 against, after 13 hours of debate. The accord was approved last week in the Argentine Congress' Upper House.
No single political representative of the main opposition parties voted for the bill, but the government party has its own majority in both chambers.
The main institutions of the Jewish community organized a demonstration Thursday morning outside the parliament building, which gathered about one hundred critics of the agreement and the government.
Minister of Foreign Relations Hector Timerman, who is Jewish, was questioned Wednesday during debate of the bill in the Lower House by legislators about commercial and geopolitical interest related to this agreement. Timerman guaranteed that “no other issue had been discussed” with Iran.
He later fought with the Republican Proposal, or PRO, Party caucus leader, Federico Pinedo, who inquired “why the agreement had been reached on the anniversary of the Holocaust. It was an Iranian imposition?” he asked.
Timerman reacted by urging the lawmaker to “take back" what he had said. “It is clear that none of you ever lost anyone in the Holocaust. You keep adding fuel to the fire and keep using the Holocaust politically. You should be ashamed of yourselves. You deeply offended my soul,” he yelled.
In his five hours in Congress to debate with lawmakers the day before the vote, Timerman had to listen to other nasty expressions about his Jewish condition. “You are giving up on the Jewish and Argentine people. If I were you, I would have resigned before signing this embarrassment,” lawmaker Elisa Carrio told Timerman.
Also Thursday the Iranian parliament began examining the AMIA agreement between Iran and Argentina, confirmed the Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran Alaeddin Boroujerdi, according to the Teheran Times.
The Teheran Times reported in a news brief that the two countries have agreed to set up an international “truth commission” to investigate the AMIA Jewish center bombing that killed 85 people.
AMIA and the local Jewish political umbrella DAIA slammed the agreement, saying that Iran is not reliable and that: “The truth in this case is established by Argentinian justice; we need the Iranians here to face Argentinian justice, not a truth commission with Iran,” DAIA President Julio Scholosser told JTA..
Global leaders have criticized the pact. “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 issued in late January. “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 B’rith 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.”