Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein on Tuesday ordered Justice Minister
Tzipi Livni to respond within seven days to Shurat Hadin’s petition to compel
her to cooperate with providing information relating to a US terror financing
case against the Bank of China.
Shurat Hadin – Israel Law Center said it
had filed the petition to the High Court of Justice earlier on Tuesday after
Livni’s “failure to respond to a request for information issued by the New York
District Court under the Hague Convention on the Taking of Evidence Abroad in
Civil or Commercial Matters.”
The Hague Convention is one of a series of
international agreements that regulates and sometimes requires cooperation
between states in providing relevant evidence in foreign court cases.
information requested pertains to the suit Shurat Hadin brought in the US courts
against the bank on behalf of 22 victims of terrorism.
The families of
the victims have accused the bank of knowingly allowing Hamas and Islamic Jihad
to launder their funds through the bank’s accounts for use in perpetrating
terrorist attacks against American civilians in Israel.
Shurat Hadin said
that the case “was commenced at the instigation and encouragement of the
government of Israel in 2008,” but that it “hit a twist when Israeli officials
made a U-turn in their promise to allow former intelligence agents to testify”
against the Bank of China in the US courts, citing national security and a need
to safeguard state secrets.
The NGO said that the information requested
from the Justice Ministry “plays a critical role in the case, following the
government of Israel’s maneuvering to prevent key Israeli intelligence officials
from testifying in the case.”
Shurat Hadin’s said its original request,
forwarded by the US courts, was delivered to the Justice Ministry on June 26,
2013, requesting “the assistance… necessary in the interests of justice, in
conformity with Article 3 of the Hague Convention.”
However, the NGO
added that half a year later it had received no response.
the NGO, the letter from New York District Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein to Livni
stated that the evidence requested includes documents from an April 2005
Israel-China counterterrorism officials’ meeting during which Israel told China
that transfers to accounts of Said Z.R. al-Shurafa “were being made by the PIJ
[Palestinian Islamic Jihad] for the purpose of carrying out terrorist
Shurat Hadin said that Livni’s compliance with the Hague
Convention was important not just to its case, but also because her refusal to
comply could lead to the US refusing future requests by Israel.
that this consequence was not theoretical, with the US court making indirect
reference to the issue of the expectations of reciprocity in providing legal
evidence between countries.
Further, it noted that Livni and Israel had
not refused the request for information, and that in any case, the only time a
state can decline to provide duly requested information is when it has
officially refused (presuming its refusal is justified), with all of
consequences of refusing.
Shurat Hadin and the State of Israel are waging
a hard-fought legal battle before the US court about whether Israel’s national
security would be infringed by providing the information.
The NGO said
that there was no basis to use this as an excuse for failure to
Besides Livni, the Court Administration is joined as a party, as
it also has potential duties to transmit information to foreign courts under the
Shurat Hadin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
commented, “We have filed this suit today as we believe Minister Livni is
culpable not only of failing in her duties under the Hague Convention, but of
failing the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism in their quest for
The Wultz family has a parallel case against the bank and a
parallel debate with the government over providing information, but has not
taken any action in the Israeli courts.
Livni’s office had not responded
by press time.