Israel’s Washington, DC, embassy is having a rough day with two news reports detailing two unrelated problems. Apparently the US is ‘outraged’ with Israel after Israel backed out of a terror suit involving a Chinese bank. In other news, Israel’s new envoy to the US can’t get himself a diplomatic passport and may be stuck in Israel until the Foreign Ministry strike is sorted out.
US ‘outraged’ after Israel backs out of terror suit
Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren was called back to Israel to take part in an emergency meeting convened this weekend by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so that Oren could pass on messages sent by the US administration and Congress in the wake of tensions between the two countries.
The tensions and lightening visit stem from the US’s outrage at Israel’s decision to back out of their commitment to a terror prosecution involving a Chinese bank allegedly laundering monies for Hamas so that Netanyahu and his family could embark on their State visit to the country last May.
The case itself is a civil suit filed by Sheryl and Yekutiel Wultz from Florida, whose son Daniel was killed in terror attack in Tel Aviv in 2006 when he was only 16 years old.
According to the suit, the money used by Hamas to undertake the terror attack reached the terrorist group through a money laundering scheme run the Chinese bank in which some $6 million were laundered through trade.
The story has invoked the rage of the White House, a number of US congressmen and Jewish organizations active in the US who were flabbergasted by the decision to back out of a legal battle against the funding of international terror only in an attempt to prevent harm from coming to Netanyahu’s visit.
On Sunday, during the meeting called by Netanyahu, Oren was meant to stress to the additional participants – among them ambassador designate Ron Dermer – that the Americans view with severity Israel’s decision to cave into China’s pressure and prevent testimonies which would legally link Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to the Bank of China.
Oren was also to convey the American shock that Netanyahu, who the Americans call “Mr. Terror” for his zero tolerance approach to terror, would take such decision.
Congress, Oren was indented to say, sees the move as nothing short of betrayal by Israel of the US, both in regards to the international war on terror and in regards to the struggle for hegemonic control raging between the West and the rising eastern powerhouse.
The crux of Oren’s mission was to inform the Israel administration of the US’s intent on advancing legal procedures against the Bank of China; to inform them that if the security officials fail to show up in court they would be subpoenaed; and additional subpoenas would also be filed against Oren, Dermer and National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror.
Dermer’s Passport Problems
Israel’s newly appointed ambassador to the United States may have to wait a while to get his feet under his new DC desk, as striking Foreign Ministry workers are refusing to process his transfer to Washington, give him a diplomatic passport, or even buy him a ticket for the plane out. Ron Dermer, who was named last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be the country’s top envoy to the US, is stuck in Israel for the time being while the Foreign Ministry Workers’ Union continues ongoing labor sanctions, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday.
“The strike is still ongoing, so it is entirely natural that we wouldn’t issue a diplomatic passport for someone from the outside,” spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Times of Israel.
The workers, who have gradually stepped up sanctions over the last four months, are protesting wage cuts as well as reductions in the compensation packages offered to partners and spouses of those sent overseas.
Last month workers expanded their protest by halting all consular activities in Israel and abroad. As a result, thousands of Israelis are stranded in foreign countries waiting to obtain renewed passports and visiting business VIPs who require visas had to cancel trips to Israel.
Among those caught in the deadlock is Dermer, who will not receive his diplomatic passport or any other paperwork. Requests to US authorities for special ambassadorial permits have not been made and Dermer has not received the usual preparation courses required before he takes up his new position, Yedioth Ahronoth reported earlier Monday. He has also not been able to meet with staff from the North American offices who are to prepare him for the job.
As a result, Dermer will likely be forced to delay his arrival in Washington beyond the scheduled target date for next month, Yedioth said.