WASHINGTON (JTA) — Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in a rare rebuke of Israel, called on its government to stand by its commitment to assist an American family suing the Bank of China in a terrorist financing case.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly has instructed officials not to testify in the case brought against the Bank of China by Sheryl and Yekutiel Wultz, whose 16-year-old son Daniel was killed in a 2006 terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, and Israeli officials have evidence allegedly showing the Bank of China knowingly laundered money for the group.
“My heart goes out to the Wultz family for having to endure so much with the loss of Daniel, who was killed in a vicious terrorist attack,” Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives Middle East subcommittee and one of Israel’s staunchest defenders in Congress, told JTA in a statement Wednesday.
“For many years, the family has continued its pursuit for justice for Daniel’s death. They’ve come this far and I am committed to doing everything in my power to help them in any way I can, and I hope and would expect the government of Israel to do the same. At the end of the day we should all want the same thing — to hold those responsible for the death of Daniel Wultz accountable, and to break the network of terror financing.”
China reportedly made Netanyahu’s high-profile trade promotion visit in May conditional on his withdrawing Israel’s assistance from the Wultz case.
The Wultzes, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Yediot Achronot, brought the suit in 2007 at Israel’s behest, in part because American anti-terrorist financing laws are so tough.
Israeli officials have evidence that they provided proof in 2005 to China of money laundering for Palestinian terrorist groups, and that the Chinese did not heed their calls to stop the funding.
Ros-Lehtinen has been a leader in some of the top pro-Israel initiatives in recent years, including the isolation of Hamas, Iran and Syria.
The Obama administration also reportedly was infuriated by Israel’s posture in the case and threatened to subpoena high-ranking Israeli officials if Netanyahu does not reverse himself.
Israel’s U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the case. The U.S. State Department has not returned a request for comment.