BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Argentine Jewish leaders are opposing a deal with Iran that Argentine President Cristina Fernandez sent to congress Friday for approval.
Fernandez says the deal will move forward a criminal investigation of Argentina’s worst terrorist attack — the 1994 bombing at a Jewish center that killed 85 people.
The deal calls for a “truth commission” and allows for Argentine prosecutors to question Iranian suspects in Teheran.
Jewish leaders Guillermo Borger and Julio Schlosser say they worry that those responsible could be let off the hook.
The deal limits questioning to five suspects named in Interpol alerts, including Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi.
Schlosser says that leaves out other suspects too high-ranking to be targeted by Interpol: former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati and former Ambassador Hadi Soleimanpour.
Last week, Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman reportedly rebuked the Israeli ambassador to Buenos Aires, castigating Israel for demanding an explanation of the probe into the 1994 bombing.
Earlier this month, Israel made clear it was furious about the agreement between Argentina and Iran, saying it was comparable to asking a murderer to investigate his own crimes.
Argentina’s ambassador to Israel, Atilio Norberto Molteni, was summoned to Jerusalem for a harsh reprimand.
On Thursday, Fernandez defended her country’s widely criticized decision to partner with Iran in the investigation.
“The memorandum of understanding we have signed is a step toward unblocking a case that has been paralyzed for 19 years,” she said in an appeal to Congress to approve a “truth commission” initiative that has drawn harsh condemnation from Israel and the local Jewish community.
“What I want to avoid… is the pain of the [victims'] families and the country’s shame by finding the path to break the deadlock,” Fernandez said. “Dialogue is a part of Argentina’s foreign policy.”