By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Back in May, Israel registered a formal complaint against Mexico for voting in favor of the creation of a United Nations special commission to investigate allegations of Israeli war crimes against Palestinians during the 11-day Guardian of the Walls operation in which Israel defended itself from thousands of rockets being sent into its territory by the terrorist group Hamas.
At the time, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) brushed off the Israeli reprimand, saying that he agreed with the UN decision and fully supported backed the vote of his UN ambassador, Juan Ramon de la Fuente.
Now, AMLO may be wishing he had handled the matter more diplomatically.
As it turns out, Tomás Zerón de Lucio, a former Mexican prosecutor who has been accused of falsifying evidence and torturing witnesses in notorious disappearance of 43 teaching students in the state of Guerrero back in 2014, has been found to be hiding out in Israel.
Zerón, who had allegedly been living in the Jewish State for the last two years, is also wanted by Mexico’s Attorney General’s office (FGR) on charges of embezzling about $55 million from government coffers.
Understandably, Mexico wants Zerón brought back for trial and registered a formal request with Jerusalem to extradite him home.
Now, in a perfect world, that extradition would proceed quickly and Zerón would soon be on a plane back to Mexico City.
But instead, Israel is playing a little tit-for-tat and dragging its heels on processing the extradition request.
Meanwhile, Zerón, who claims the allegations are false and politically motivated, has applied for asylum in Israel.
So far, Israel has not responded to neither the extradition nor the asylum request, which has Mexican Foreign Relations (SRE) Secretary Marcelo Ebrard fuming, especially since just four days ago he made it public that he is planning to run for the presidency in 2024. (Ebrard, not known for his diplomatic charm but indeed known for his anti-Israeli stance, can’t really afford another pie-in-the-face scandal right now since he is still licking his wounds from the tragic May 3 collapse of Mexico City’s Metro Line 12, which was built when he was mayor of the capital.)
While Jerusalem has formally remained mum on the matter of Zerón, one Israeli official who spoke to the New York Times on condition of anonymity, put it very bluntly: “Why would we help Mexico?”