On Tuesday a US federal court was asked to reject Israel's attempt to prevent key testimony in a terrorism financing lawsuit against the state-owned Bank of China (BOC). The request came from lawyers of the family of Daniel Wultz, a 16 year old American killed in a 2006 Tel Aviv suicide bombing.
Documents filed Tuesday in the case's brief reveal that the government of Israel, after encouraging the Florida based Wultz family to pursue justice and providing them with evidence, later made a complete about-face. Israel filed a petition on November 15 to cancel the subpoena of Uzi Shaya, a key witness.
Wultz's parents were in personal communication with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, former National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, as well as Shaya, as they received support from the Israeli government in their case.
This support included critical evidence such as bank account numbers, details about BOC money laundering, and the content of discussions between Israeli and Chinese officials. Furthermore, Shaya was offered as a key witness, a promise reiterated in a personal phone call from Netanyahu's office to the Wultzes in April 2012.
However, the documents indicate that Netanyahu succumbed to pressure from the Chinese government, agreeing to pull the key witness and support for the case. The agreement apparently made possible Netanyahu's visit to China in May with his family, for 5 days of "sightseeing and meetings" in which they were "treated like royalty" according to reports.
If the Wultz family's petition is accepted, Shaya, a former Israeli intelligence officer, is expected to testify about meetings in China starting April 2005, in which Israel requested Chinese officials to close BOC dollar accounts used to funnel funds to designated terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The Israeli delegation was told BOC would not close the accounts despite Israeli warnings, and a year later Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack that killed 11, including Wultz.
The brief filed Tuesday by David Boies, lead attorney for the Wultzes, states "the State of Israel should not be allowed to sabotage a case, which it set in motion in the courts of the United States to advance its own national agenda, by using the expansive pretense of national security – an interest that it has never previously raised during the five-year pendency of this lawsuit, or in any similar case."
Israel's about-face on Wultz's case appears to be part of greater outreach seeking to strength Israeli-Chinese cooperation. Just in November, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman stressed that Israel must look for allies as relations with America remain tense over the Iran nuclear deal and peace talks with the Palestinian Authority (PA).
The move has raised fears that Israel may find new allies only to put itself in a dependent position on them, forsaking justice as in the current lawsuit for the sake of international ties.
Further signifying the growing ties, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is set to arrive in Israel on Tuesday in a high-profile diplomatic visit.