Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised a terror victim’s family, through a
telephone call from a member of his office, that he would allow former
government agent Uzi Shaya to testify against the Bank of China in a major US
terror financing case, according to a response filed by the family’s lawyers on
The response, obtained by The Jerusalem Post and filed in a US
federal court for the District of Columbia, said Jordana Cutler of the Prime
Minister’s Office made the call on April 1, 2012 to the parents of terror victim
Then, on May 14, 2012, then-Israeli ambassador to the US
Michael Oren called US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida) to confirm Shaya
would testify, the lawyers said.
This all occurred after Ros-Lehtinen had
personally delivered a letter to Netanyahu from the Wultz family in March 2012,
according to the response.
The revelation came in the wake of the Israeli
government’s highly controversial mid-November motion to block Shaya from
testifying in the case, which the government said was due to national security
concerns and harm to international cooperative efforts to prevent
The government and the prime minister have been accused of
blocking Shaya’s testimony due to pressure from China, as Jerusalem is
attempting to elevate its relations with Beijing.
The Prime Minister’s
Office responded to the revelations on Tuesday by reiterating word for word its
mid-November response regarding national security concerns, without addressing
the new allegations.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in Israel
on Tuesday for a rare high-level visit.
Shaya’s testimony was planned to
be a major part of the terror victims families’ case against the bank. He was
due to testify about Israeli warnings to China that the bank was being used to
fund attacks on civilians in Israel.
In 2006, 16-year-old American Daniel
Wultz was killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. His family has accused the
Bank of China of facilitating the attack by providing wire transfer services to
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which orchestrated the attack.
The bank denies
The court response details the personal communications
between the Wultz family and senior Israeli government and intelligence
officials, including Netanyahu, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, former National
Security Council head Ya’acov Amidror and Shaya himself, who the family says
encouraged them to pursue the case.
Many of the contacts between
Netanyahu’s office, Oren and the Wultzes and their representatives came as Dagan
was replaced as head of the Mossad in 2011, with some questions arising under
the new leadership, said the court response.
In addition, the filing says
the government actively participated in preparing Shaya to be deposed in the
case, including by arranging a face-to-face meeting between Daniel Wultz’s
father, Yekutiel (“Tuly”) Wultz, and Shaya. It added that the government
directed Shaya to “review government files, instructed Shaya to meet with senior
government lawyers, and prepared a letter that set the government’s ground rules
for Shaya’s testimony.”
The response says the government provided the
Wultzes with bank account numbers and details about how money was being
laundered for Palestinian terrorists through the bank.
says the response, the government disclosed “the content of discussions between
Israeli officials and officials of the People’s Republic of China” that made
filing the case possible.
The response makes reference to Shlomo Matalon,
who filed an affidavit in the case in 2008, and an agent referred to only as
“Mr. L,” as having worked for the Israeli government on the issues related to
the case. A “Mr. B” and “E” are referred to as defining the legal parameters by
which Shaya would be allowed to testify.
The response, in fuller detail
than previously revealed, recounts a June 2013 telephone call between Amidror
and Yekutiel Wultz, in which Amidror somewhat apologetically told the father
that since the case had changed China’s behavior, the main objective had already
been achieved. The filing says Amidror did not deny Netanyahu had reversed his
position because of pressure from the Chinese.
On legal arguments, the
response contends that the substance of Shaya’s testimony was already revealed
by Matalon and that some aspects of Shaya’s testimony were learned after he left
Each of these arguments should vitiate any special
sovereign immunity or national security privilege claimed by Israel to block
Shaya from testifying, the response said.
David Boies, of Boies, Schiller
and Flexner LLP, the Wultz family’s renowned lawyer, said: “Congress has made
clear America’s interest in bringing to justice those who facilitate terrorism
against American citizens anywhere in the world.”
“While we are
respectful of China’s interests,” Boies said, “and of the diplomatic pressure to
which Israel has been subjected, those interests and that pressure cannot be
permitted to obstruct the ability of American courts to hear critical evidence
to which they are entitled.”
In related developments, Shurat Hadin, an
NGO representing 22 families of victims in a parallel case, recently demanded
the depositions of Amidror and Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai, and is also
demanding that Shaya testify.
Shurat Hadin head Nitsana Darshan- Leitner
said: “The United States federal courts are not Abu Jihad’s house in Tunis,
Israel cannot have its agents charging in there, shooting the place up and then
running away. This time the Prime Minister’s Office has got to deal with the
mess it created.”
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