TEL AVIV (Jul. 30)
A member of the Israeli Cabinet will soon be leaving for Washington to hold talks with American officials about Israel’s stance in a fraud and bribery case involving General Electric Co. and a former Israeli general.
Justice Minister David Libai has said that he will be leaving for Washington “in the very near future.” He will lead an official Israeli delegation that will be seeking a compromise to a standoff between the two governments that has developed in the wake of the bribery scandal.
American officials want to question Rami Dotan, the former Israel Defense Force brigadier general who is now serving a 13-year prison term here for accepting bribes of some $11 million from a high-level G.E. executive. Dotan took the bribes in return for securing Israeli contracts for G.E.’s jet engines.
G.E. pleaded guilty last week to four criminal charges and agreed to pay fines totaling $69 million in connection with the scandal.
The illegal transactions between G.E. officials and Dotan are currently the subject of hearings before a U.S. congressional subcommittee.
At a hearing Wednesday, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, repeatedly referred to Israel’s lack of cooperation with American officials’ investigations. He noted that cooperation in cases of suspected fraud is a requirement of the aid agreements that provide Israel with $1.8 billion in U.S. foreign military assistance annually.
American investigators want the right to question Dotan directly. But Israel fears that such face-to-face investigations may divulge other secret Israeli material.
Libai is expected to seek a compromise that will enable American investigators to question Dotan along with Herbert Steindler, the former G.E. executive who was named as a participant in the bribery case.
Both Dotan and Steindler are held responsible for diverting some $40 million in U.S. military aid originally earmarked for Israel.