Stuart Levey, the US Treasury's point man in the fight against the funding of global terrorism, arrived in Israel Monday evening for a 30-hour visit.
Levey, the Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Mossad head Meir Dagan, National Security Council's counter-terrorism head Danny Arditi, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer.
Levey is here at the tail end of a week-long regional tour. Diplomatic officials said his brief visit was aimed at "discussing joint efforts to combat terrorist financing." His visit comes amid reports that the US is stepping up its efforts to pressure Arab banks not to forward to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority money raised in Arab countries.
According to a Newsweek report, Arab banks, concerned that they would face punitive action - such as fines, legal action and losing their right to operate in the US - if they were to transfer funds, are bending to the pressure. According to press reports, some $70 million that had been raised for the PA in Qatar and Saudi Arabia were sitting in accounts in Cairo because Egyptian banks didn't want to transfer the money.
In a related development, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley is scheduled to arrive in Israel from Jordan on Wednesday, May 3, for four days of talks.
Crain's Chicago Business newspaper reported last month that the purpose of Daley's Middle East tour was to study security measures that might be of use in Chicago. Daley's press secretary was quoted as saying that Israel "has been inviting him to come for years." The Jewish Federation of Chicago and the Foreign Ministry are coordinating the visit.