Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday congratulated Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez for his “persistence” in investigating a 1994 bombing of a Jewish community in Buenos Aires.
Fernandez’s vice president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, was accused by the case’s special prosecutor of a cover up in the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) headquarters, which left 85 dead and 300 wounded.
Kirchner, who was president from 2007 to 2015, was accused of having attempted to cover up Iranian involvement in the bombing in return for lucrative trade deals with her government.
Netanyahu congratulated Fernandez “on standing by the designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and equally, for your persistence in discovering the truth of the AMIA bombing. I think this is important. It conveys a position of principle that we value very much.”
Netanyahu had welcomed Fernandez and his partner, Fabiola Yanez, to his Jerusalem residence on their first visit to Israel, a statement said. Fernandez was in Israel for the World Holocaust Forum marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
The AMIA prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, was found shot dead in his Buenos Aires apartment in 2015 in what was officially ruled a suicide. He had been shot in the head from close range by a handgun which was found at his side.
The timing and circumstances of his death were suspicious: it came just days after he directly accused then-president Kirchner and some of her top aides of the cover up, and he had been due to outline his case against Kirchner before lawmakers shortly after his death.
His death was initially ruled a likely suicide but an Argentine federal appeals court later found that he was murdered.
Earlier this month, Fernandez said he doubted Nisman was murdered, and rejected Nisman’s claim of a cover up by Kirchner, calling it “absurd.”
Fernandez also cast doubt on the suicide ruling, saying “I doubt that someone who was going through a euphoric moment could commit suicide, I don’t know that. I’m allowing myself to doubt it.”
The statements came a day after a Netflix miniseries on Nisman was released which includes a 2017 interview in which Fernandez says that “Till this very day, I doubt he killed himself.”
In July, Fernandez testified in Kirchner’s trial over a newspaper interview he gave in 2015 criticizing her for allowing Iranian suspects to be questioned back home, rather than in Argentina.
Nisman, in his investigation, established that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group was responsible for the carnage, and traced the commissioning of the attack to Iran’s leaders.
Kirchner, who was indicted in 2017 in connection with the alleged cover-up of Iran’s involvement in the bombing, denies any wrongdoing.
Some 3,000 Argentines paid tribute to Nisman last week on the fifth anniversary of his death at a rally in Buenos Aires. The demonstrators shouted “murderer” every time Kirchner’s name was mentioned. They denied suggestions that Nisman had committed suicide. The protesters also leveled heavy criticism at Fernandez.
Netanyahu on Friday also met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who was also in Israel for the Holocaust forum. Netanyahu lauded relations between Israel and Ukraine and called the Iranian shoot-down of a Ukrainian jetliner earlier this month a “tragedy.”
Netanyahu spoke of the “horrendous price” paid by the citizens and soldiers of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during World War II, “without which there would be no survivors and no Jewish state. So, we are eternally grateful.”
Zelensky informed Netanyahu about his family, which had survived the Holocaust.
“This is incomparable courage and the story of your own family, the struggle for life, the struggle for the future — this is what our common story represents. I welcome you to Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said.