Beijing is pressuring Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to backtrack on a promise to help in a US terror funding lawsuit involving a Chinese bank’s alleged involvement in a 2006 Tel Aviv suicide bombing, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
The Bank of China allegedly allowed Iran to deliver funding to terrorist organizations, including Islamic Jihad, that carried out an attack killing 16-year-old Daniel Wultz and 10 others at the Rosh Ha’ir shwarma restaurant near the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station.
Wultz’s parents are suing the BOC for its alleged part in the attack, a lawsuit that hinges on the testimony of a former Israeli intelligence official, scheduled to testify in a New York federal court in July.
The Journal quoted the plaintiffs as saying the official is expected to testify that at a 2005 meeting, Israeli officials told China that BOC accounts were being used to fund terrorist groups including Islamic Jihad, but they refused to close the accounts.
The Wultzes, however, said China is pressuring Netanyahu not to allow the official to testify, amid growing trade with China worth billions of dollars annually to the Israeli economy.
The paper cited a congressional staffer who has coordinated between the Wultzes and the government as saying the Prime Minister’s Office is undecided about giving the former intelligence official permission to testify, despite previous commitments to do so.
US Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) wrote a letter to Netanyahu last week on behalf of the Wultzes, imploring him to allow the official to testify, according to the Journal.
“We are aware of mounting pressure by the BOC and other Chinese interests… to interfere with the US proceedings and the deposition,” she wrote, adding that by allowing the official to testify, Netanyahu would “reaffirm Israel’s solemn commitment to the victims of terror to ensure that justice be done.”
In May 2006, a US district court judge awarded the Wultz family $332 million in damages from Iran and Syria for providing material support for the attack that killed their son.
Daniel’s father, Yekutiel “Tuly” Wultz, who was seriously wounded in the attack; his mother, Sheryl; and his siblings Amanda and Abraham brought the civil lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, under powerful US anti-terrorism laws that permit American civilians to sue sovereign states that sponsor acts of terror.
According to the Journal, the Wultzes said that the Israeli government offered to share classified information for the lawsuit, including information on Bank of China accounts used to transfer funds to terror organizations.
“They asked us to do the lawsuit, and they said they’ll fully cooperate with us and give us anything we need to win,” Tuly Wultz told the Journal.
Netanyahu traveled to China in May in a trip geared toward increasing commerce between the countries. Israel and China engaged in some $8 billion in trade in 2011 – $6b. of which was Chinese exports to Israel – a number that the prime minister believes is just a fraction of the potential.
While in China he said repeatedly that Israel’s innovation and China’s production capabilities should make the two countries a perfect business match.
The Journal quoted an Israeli official as saying Israeli and Chinese officials discussed the Bank of China terror-funding case in April, prior to Netanyahu’s trip.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Report-Beijing-pressuring-Netanyahu-to-drop-support-for-US-terror-funding-case-against-Bank-of-China-317363