December 12, 2013
Deal with Iran cleared for debate at Lower House
The bilateral accord between Argentina and Iran to investigate the 1994 AMIA bombing was cleared for debate by the Lower House committees and will be discussed tomorrow at the floor. Earlier, Timerman clashed with opposition lawmakers during his briefing over the case.
Lawmakers from the Victory Front bloc along with its allies, reached 59 signatures.
The head of the Foreign Ministry left the building after answering the questions of the heads of the parties and listening to the leaders of the Jewish community and families of the attack's victims. Although he had answered to questions made by the opposition, he was expected to go through another session of questions, this time from the members of the committees.
Nevertheless, the official left the building, action that led to the discontent and shouts of the opposition against him. The majority of the opposition lawmakers left the committee, but the Victory Front had already the number of signatures assured to clear the deal for debate.
Sitting before the Foreign Relations and Judicial and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Timerman was initially questioned by the head of the UCR caucus Ricardo Gil Lavedra, who questioned the minister for “saying this agreement will lead to justice.”
“You can’t say that the interrogation is the first step in the judicial process, because it all ends with the interrogation,” he said, adding that he wanted to know whether during negotiations with Iran, Argentina had discussed “other bilateral affairs.”
Timerman assured that “no other issue had been discussed,” immediately slamming the Radical party for their attempt to sell grains to Iran in the 80s.
He later clashed with the PRO caucus leader Federico Pinedo, who asked “why the agreement had been reached on the anniversary of the Holocaust.”
Timerman reacted by urging the lawmaker to “take back what he had said” assuring that was willing to stay in Congress until 2 AM because he had “deeply offended him.”
“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,” he yelled.
Later came lawmaker Elisa Carrio’s turn, who harshly criticized Timerman for “giving up on the Jewish and Argentine people.”
“If I were you, I would have resigned before signing this embarrassment,” Carrio said.
After three hours of exposition, Timerman said that he is aware that “he will pay a very steep price for this, and he accepts it, but he believes it’s what’s best for the victims.”
The government had expressed confidence on reaching quorum regardless of the announced intention by the opposition, which unanimously opposes the potential treaty, to frustrate the session.
Opposition deputies met with AMIA and DAIA Jewish community grouping leaders Guillermo Borger and Julio Schlosser yesterday, who also oppose the agreement and have reiterated their mistrust of Iran as a partner, considering that former and current officials of the Middle Eastern country have been accused of involvement in the attack.