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January 14, 2014 12:14 pm

Supreme Court Judge Gives Israeli Justice Minister One Week to Release Bank of China Terror Case Docs

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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Israel's Supreme Court, in Jerusalem. Photo: WikiCommons.

Israel's Supreme Court, in Jerusalem. Photo: WikiCommons.

Israeli Supreme Court Judge Elyakim Rubinstein on Tuesday ruled that the Israeli government, in the person of Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, must turn over documents requested for a case against the Bank of China. The ruling gave Livni seven days to comply.

The lawsuit charges the People’s Republic with allowing its financial facilities to hold and transfer money to Palestinian terror groups engaged in perpetrating violent acts of terror against Israeli and American civilians, Shurat Hadin-The Israel Law Center said.

A spokesman said that the case was filed on Tuesday morning and Judge Rubinstein, Israel’s Attorney General from 1997 to 2004 and a former high-level diplomat, gave his ruling the very same day.

The case was filed on behalf of 22 victims of terrorism and, according to Shurat Hadin-The Israel Law Center, “was commenced at the instigation and encouragement of the Government of Israel in 2008.”

It said the case, which was filed in New York, progressed until “Israeli officials made a u-turn in their promise to allow former intelligence agents to testify against the BOC (Bank of China) in the US District Court for the District of Columbia, citing national security and a need to safeguard their state secrets.”

A letter from New York District Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein said, “The requested documents will be used by the parties in support of their claims or defenses. Among other things, the requested documents will be used in taking the testimony of a witness located in Israel. The Court accordingly respectfully requests a prompt response to this Letter of Request.”

The case against the Bank of China contends “that BOC provided financial services to the PIJ (Palestinian Islamic Jihad) and Hamas, and therefore is liable for plaintiffs’ injuries, because it processed millions of dollars of wire transfers and other transactions for a BOC account-holder named Said al-Shurafa (‘Shurafa’), who held multiple accounts in his name at BOC branches in Guangdong Province, China, and Shurafa’s relations and affiliates (collectively, the ‘Shurafas’). Plaintiffs allege that Shurafa is an operative and agent of the PIJ and Hamas. BOC denies plaintiffs’ allegations against it and denies that it is liable to plaintiffs for their injuries.”

The evidence requested includes, “Documents concerning an alleged April 2005 meeting in China between Israeli counter-terrorism officials and ‘officials of the PRC ‘s Ministry of Public Security and the PRC’s central bank,’ during which Israeli Government officials allegedly stated that transfers to accounts of Said ZR al-Shurafa (‘Shurafa’) at the BOC ‘were being made by the PIJ for the purpose of carrying out terrorist attacks’ and ‘demanded that the PRC officials take action to prevent BOC from making further such transfers.'”

The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been criticized by U.S. Representative  Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, for stalling in delivering the information. While Israel says the delays are due to the sensitivity of the requested documents, reports claim that Israel is stalling to avoid angering the Chinese government with whom Israel has growing economic ties. Cantor’s cousins are involved in the case as plaintiffs.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Shurat Hadin’s Director, said, “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 justice.”

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