Attorney Boaz Ben Tsur, who is representing former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has also represented the Arab Bank, which has been convicted in the US for providing financial assistance to Hamas, according to court documents.
The bank entered the news in the early 2000s, when the families of victims and survivors of terrorist attacks in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip filed a number of lawsuits against the Arab Bank for providing financial services to Palestinian terrorist organizations, allowing these organizations to conduct terrorist attacks. The bank, based in Jordan, has a branch in New York.
While the bank denied the claims, in 2014, a jury found the bank liable under the US Anti-Terrorist Act for knowingly providing assistance to the Hamas terrorist organization and thereby being complicit in terrorist attacks that were conducted from 2001 to 2004. The bank reached a confidential settlement with the claimants who were American citizens, but the plaintiffs with only Israeli citizenship were removed from the file and were not part of the settlement.
Already in 2005, the US Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had issued a $24 million penalty against the Arab Bank's New York branch for failing to implement an adequate anti-money laundering program to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
Ben Tzur's involvement comes from a suit filed in the Jerusalem District Court in December 2019, with a decision in the case from August 2020 listing Ben Tzur as one of the five attorneys representing the Arab Bank. The suit was filed against the bank by 1,132 plaintiffs who were victims of terrorist attacks or the heirs or family members of victims of terrorist attacks that took place between 1995 to 2005. The plaintiffs claimed that the Arab Bank financed terrorist activity in a number of ways and was therefore liable for damages, demanding NIS 20 billion in compensation.
"Honestly, I think it's pretty insane," Yosef Mendelevich, whose son Yuval was killed in a suicide bombing attack in 2003, told Army Radio on Sunday. "For some reason, Ben Tzur joined the suit in Israel."
"The oxygen of terrorism...is money. This is a chain of evil. If you cut the link of money in the chain, you end terrorism."Yosef Mendelevich, father of Yuval who was killed in a suicide bombing attack in 2003
"The oxygen of terrorism...is money," added Mendelevich. "This is a chain of evil. If you cut the link of money in the chain, you end terrorism. It's also an incentive for the families that receive the money afterward and this creates fuel for terrorism. Really, it's supporting terrorism. This is an attorney who in the same breath is defending former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. How can these things be linked?"
Ben Tzur joined Netanyahu's legal team in August 2020, over half a year after the suit against the Arab Bank was filed.
Over a year and a half without progress in the case
Since the decision in August 2020 (which ruled that the suit had been filed in a lawful way and that the suit would be defined as confidential), the suit has not made much progress. As of May, Justice Tamar Bar-Asher had still not decided whether or not to hear the case or dismiss it, according to Israeli business daily Calcalist. The reasons given for the delay included caseloads and the "complexity" of the case.
Arab Bank's links to terrorism
Despite the conviction in the US in 2014, a UK-based bank called Standard Chartered continued to process suspicious transactions for Arab Bank customers until February 2016, according to files from FinCEN that were leaked by Buzzfeed and the International Consortium of Investigative (ICIJ).
Many wires processed by Standard Chartered for the bank referred to “charities,” “donations,” “support” or “gifts,” with a leaked follow-up report by the bank expressing concerns that these wires were hiding "illicit activities."
In 2004, a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center detailed how the Arab Bank allowed Hamas, Fatah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist movement to transfer funds related to terrorist activity. Documents captured by Israeli security forces showed that Iran had used the bank to transfer funds to the Palestinian terrorist movements.
The link between Ben Tzur and the Arab Bank lawsuit was first reported by Ben Caspit of Walla News.