Israel offers security help as Argentina absorbs 3,000 Syrian refugees

(JTA) – Israel has offered to help with security issues in the absorption of 3,000 Syrian refugees in Argentina.

Five Israeli lawmakers on a mission to Argentina signed an agreement Friday with Argentine Vice-President Gabriel Michetti and Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra that stresses co-operation in the fight against terrorism along with the need to address the security needs of the country and its Jewish community. 

“We understand the Argentinian desire to help with the global humanitarian crisis, but it is very important that terrorists don’t use this as a way to enter Argentina,” one of the Israeli lawmakers, Haim Jelim, an Argentina native, told journalists.

Michetti tweeted Friday to his 765,000 followers a photo of himself with the Israeli lawmakers announcing that they will “strengthen commercial ties” with Israel.

Israel’s recently appointed ambassador to Argentina, Ilan Sztulman, in his first meeting with Argentine journalists said Israel “helps people who escape from the humanitarian crisis in Syria, we treat them in our hospitals, we share the attitude of helping them. But it is important that Argentina do this very carefully, especially because Iranians and Hezbollah are already in Argentina and in the region.”

The agreement signed between the two nations will be a framework for new legislation to increase exchange in commerce, science and security co-operation.

“We will co-operate in agriculture, commerce, water and sustainability, but the most important issue now in this context is security and the fight against terrorism, and we are united now to work together on this field,” Jelim told JTA.

Less than a month ago, Argentine Jewish leaders had expressed concerns over security with the upcoming arrival of the Syrians.

“We will not do anything to increase insecurity in our country,” said Argentina’s secretary-general, Marcos Pena. “We are clear that terrorism has already hit our country twice, at the AMIA Jewish center and the Israeli Embassy. We are actively monitoring the security threats, especially with the current global upheaval. We are very clear in our stand against violence and terrorism.”

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