Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center won a significant battle in its terror
financing case against the Bank of China, the center announced.
Hadin convinced the New York Appellate Division to apply Israeli law and keep
the case, filed on behalf on 22 families, in New York, the center told The
Jerusalem Post late on Thursday night.
The most dramatic aspect of the
state appeals court decision was that it both reversed the lower New York court
decision to apply New York law in the case, in favor of Israeli law, and it made
this decision against recent precedents by the New York-based US Court of
Appeals for the Second Circuit.
The state appeals court also reaffirmed
the lower court’s decision to keep the case in New York as opposed to moving it
to China, and rejected outright the bank’s appeal to apply Chinese law instead
of either Israeli or New York law.
The court recognized the decision as
significant, as Israeli law includes a right to sue and receive damages for
violation of specific statutes, including a uniquely Israeli statute that places
wide liability on banks and others that even indirectly aid or facilitate
New York law’s obligations on banks are more
lenient regarding anything their clients may be involved in.
the entire case and chances of winning would have been radically different under
Chinese law and in China than under Israeli law and in New York.
victims and family members of victims of terrorist attacks perpetrated between
2004 and 2007 in Israel allege that starting in 2003, the Bank of China executed
dozens of wire transfers for Hamas and Islamic Jihad totaling several million
The case is still far from trial or any sort of resolution, but
unlike beating a regular motion to dismiss, where usually a plaintiff merely has
to survive small procedural hurdles that do not impact the case later, this
decision, especially in applying Israeli law, gives the plaintiffs a significant
advantage at all points of the case going forward as the framework will always
be one applying greater liability against the Bank of China.
development comes shortly after another major development, where according to an
exclusive report in the Post, key former Israeli government witness Uzi Shaya
sent a letter out on the case that he was “inclined” to testify despite reports
that China threatened to cancel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s visit to
China last spring if Israel did not prevent Shaya from testifying.
Hadin had said that Shaya’s letter would indicate that he has faced potential
opposition from the Israeli government about testifying, but that he believes he
can testify anyway.
Despite that belief, Shaya explained to Shurat Hadin
that he wished to give the government time to formulate an official position,
particularly since the government might, in the end, endorse his
In July, the bank’s lawyers said that maybe the government
was withholding Shaya’s testimony because it believed his testimony would be
inaccurate – though the court appeared to reject this out of hand.
significant question of whether Shaya will testify is being reviewed by the
government, according to an official letter response to the court from July 12
by deputy director of the international department of the State Attorney’s
Office, Yitzhak Blum.
The court expressed frustration that the letter did
not give any deadline for an answer and indicated it would be responding to
Blum’s letter by requesting a deadline.