Tensions on the rise between U.S. & Israel

July 16, 2013 at 10:02 AM
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JERUSALEM, July 16 (UPI) -- The Israeli prime minister's office refused to comment on allegations Israel blocked an official from testifying in a U.S. court against a Chinese bank.

"We are not commenting," Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement Tuesday. The statement referred to reports Israeli Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren was called to Jerusalem during the weekend to discuss U.S. anger after Israel backed down from previous agreements to allow a former intelligence official to testify in a U.S. court case against a Chinese bank suspected of funding terror organizations, The Jerusalem Post said.

Details of tensions between Jerusalem and Washington were first reported by the daily Yedioth Ahronoth Monday. The Hebrew language daily said Netanyahu reneged on an initial deal and agreed to China's request to prevent the intelligence official from testifying. The decision came after Beijing threatened to cancel Netanyahu's trip to China in May.

An earlier report in The Wall Street Journal said the intelligence officer's testimony was crucial. He was to testify he attended a 2005 meeting when the Beijing bank was informed it was funding terror.

The court case was filed by the parents of Danny Wultz who was killed in a terror attack in Tel Aviv in 2006. Israel initially agreed to allow the intelligence official to testify against the Bank of China. The bank is suspected of money laundering and funneling money to Palestinian terror groups, including the Islamic Jihad, which was responsible for the attack in which Wultz was killed.

Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, head of the Israeli civil rights organization Shurat Hadin told The Jerusalem Post because of the situation she may be compelled by the court to testify the Israeli government broke its promise.

"You can't put families through five years of litigation where you made a promise and break it," she said, adding she was not informed by the government of the decision to prevent the intelligence official from testifying.

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