Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Venezuela’s accusations that Israel is trying to destabilize the region labeled as “ridiculous”

Published by the Jewish News Agency (JNA), 25/7/2009
(Translated from Spanish)

Venezuela’s accusations that Israel is trying to destabilize the region labeled as “ridiculous”


JNA – In an exclusive interview for the Jewish News Agency, Dorit Shavit, Deputy Director General for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is accompanying Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Liberman on his present visit to Latin America, talked with JNA editor Daniel Berliner. She warned about the “nuclear interests” motivating Iran’s attempt to encroach on the Latin American continent, and charged that “Venezuela is offering the Iranians false papers” allowing them to freely move throughout the region.Shavit also revealed details about the modus operandi of Hezbollah cells, and, warning that “the possibility of a third terrorist attack cannot be discounted,” said that the Argentine government “absolutely concurs with Israel’s policy of condemning Iran”. Shavit categorized Colombia as the topmost anti-Iranian country in the region.

Israel called the allegations voiced by the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs "ridiculous" and denounced the government of president Hugo Chávez for “offering the Iranians false papers,” allowing them to move throughout the entire continent without being subjected to any controls.

In an exclusive interview for the Jewish News Agency (JNA), Dorit Shavit, Deputy Director General for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, chose the same adjective previously used by Venezuela to delegitimize her accusations regarding relations with the Lebanese Hezbollah organization. The Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier labeled Shavit’s statements as “ridiculous” and accused Israel of trying to “destabilize” the region. “What can I say about Venezuela, which endeavors to create enmity with all countries? What is ridiculous is what Venezuela claimed,” asserted the Israeli official.

Shavit revealed that Venezuela “is offering Iranians false papers” with which they can travel to Caracas, and then “see if they can enter other countries with those documents”. “With those papers, they do not need a visa to enter all other Latin American countries. It seems there are direct flights from Teheran to Caracas. No other tourist enjoys such advantages. Nobody knows what these Iranians are doing,” she said.

Shavit stated that, “the friendship between Iran and Venezuela is evident. [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad visited Caracas several times, and Chávez visited Teheran too”. The two countries had even signed 300 trade agreements, she commented.

“We also know that besides Iran there are Hezbollah cells in Venezuela. We have not yet confirmed that they are involved in terrorist activities, but it has happened in the past and it might happen again,” she said, alluding to the attacks against AMIA (the Argentine Jewish Community Center) and the Embassy of Israel in Buenos Aires. The diplomat pointed out that these groups “raise money saying it is meant for social objectives, but that is not true; they say it will serve to help families in the Middle East, but in fact it is used to purchase arms; that is the purpose of Iranian encroachment in the region,” she asserted.

According to Shavit, Iran’s interest in Latin America began when Ahmadinejad took power in Teheran. “For example, Iran reopened its embassy in Chile, attended a diplomatic meeting in Uruguay, opened embassies in Nicaragua and Ecuador, and they want to install themselves in Peru and Panama as well,” she revealed. In her opinion “it is evident that this [Iranian] penetration has an impact on Latin America; Iran has a history of terrorism in this continent, and more precisely in Argentina,” she stressed.

However, the Israeli diplomat said, “Israel does not clearly know what Iran is [now] looking for in Latin America, but it is obvious that they want to annoy the United States, and it is also evident that they have economic interests and want to alleviate their present isolation in the world”. Besides, “there are nuclear interests too; we all know that,” she added.

Regarding Argentina’s position vis-à-vis the intrusion of the Islamic regime, Shavit asserted, “Foreign Minister [Jorge Taiana] totally concurs with Israel’s stance of condemning the policies of Ahmadinejad. Argentina already suffered two terrorist attacks, still does not have diplomatic relations with Iran, and the commercial ties between the two countries seem to be very limited.”

The Israeli official mentioned at least three categories in the relations between Iran and the countries in the region. As regards ideological reasons, she categorized Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Honduras (until the recent destabilization of the institutional order in that country), and Guatemala in the same class. She placed Colombia first among the countries that proclaim their disagreement with Iranian policies. As for Uruguay, Argentina, Chile and Mexico, Shavit believes any relations they have with Iran are based on commercial interests only, while other countries, such as the Dominican Republic, are among those nations “without any interest” in the Islamic republic.

“Argentina has friendly relations with Venezuela, but they differ regarding relations with Iran; I think Argentina does not agree, but relations with Venezuela do exist,” she asserted.

Shavit did not write off the possibility of another terrorist attack and cautioned against discounting such an event. “No one can predict the future, but a third attack can happen anywhere, because there are Iranians here, and some Hamas cells may operate in the region too. We already have the Hezbollah precedent. If we had good information though, we might be able to prevent another attack,” she remarked.

On the subject of the relations between Israel and Venezuela, Shavit commented that “in the early days of his presidency [Chávez] never spoke about the State of Israel, and the change began only after he instated his anti-American policy. Then he began attacking Israel, severed diplomatic relations and expelled the Israeli ambassador.”

As to the anti-Semitic sentiment in the region, Shavit thinks Chávez “does not understand the meaning of the treaty he signed last year with his colleagues from Argentina and Brazil, Cristina Kirchner and Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva, when the three countries committed to battle discrimination and anti-Semitism. As before, said Shavit, the Venezuelan president, “continues bad-mouthing the Jews and condoning anti-Semitic acts against the Jewish community's synagogues or buildings.”

Speaking about Avigdor Liberman’s visit, Shavit pointed out that since he first took office, the FM had always emphasized his intent to “strengthen the ties” with Latin America. She remarked that in Liberman’s view, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has more important issues to deal with than the Middle East conflict; the diplomat even commented that barely a week after taking office, the FM had asked “a visit to Latin America to be prepared”. “We are concerned for the Jewish community and about Iranian penetration, and that is part of the reason for the visit of the FM,” said Shavit.

מח' מידע ואינטרנט – אגף תקשורת

No comments: