Argentina Turns Diplomatic Focus to Israel

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Israel, not Iran, is the focus of new Argentinean diplomatic efforts.

A high-level visit to Israel by the country’s foreign minister and the signing of a diplomatic agreement will begin a “new era” in Israeli-Argentinean relations, in the wake of the controversial memorandum of understanding signed between Argentina and Iran to jointly investigate the AMIA 1994 Jewish Center bombing attack.

This bilateral accord was agreed to in January 2013. Argentina’s Jewish community, international Jewish groups, Israel and the United States has protested the agreement.

The accord has not yet started to function.

Argentina’s Foreign Minister Hector Timerman will begin an official visit to Israel on Monday. During the visit, he will participate in Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremonies at Yad Vashem, with scheduled meetings with President Shimon Peres, his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.

Under a new commercial deal being reached between Argentina and Israel, Argentina will buy a squadron of up to 18 upgraded Kfir fighter jets, according to the Israeli business daily Globes. Recently an Argentina military delegation visited Israel to sign the contract.

“We are in a better mood now, the relationship is getting closer, we will receive Timerman in Israel and also we have four new agreements to sign with Argentina, this new era will benefit both countries,” Dori Shavit, Israeli ambassador in Buenos Aires, told JTA.

The four agreements involve: cinema co production; air space routes and a deal between Argentina’s Aerorlieas Argentinas and Israel’s El Al, a policy for disabled people, and education.

“We expect that Timerman could sign some of these agreements in Israel, we are working hard on this,” Shavit said.

On Friday morning, two days before his trip to Israel, Timerman, who is Jewish, received in his office a delegation from DAIA, the Argentinean Jewish political umbrella. They discussed the new era of relations, Timerman’s trip to Israel and asked for a meeting with the Argentinean president, in order to ask her to cancel the agreement with Iran.

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