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Israeli advocacy group tries to block Boeing, Iran Air deal

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December 18, 2016

Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center asks US federal court to block $16.6 billion deal until relatives of victims of Iran-backed militants are compensated.

WASHINGTON – An Israeli advocacy group, the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center, has asked a US federal court to block a $16.6 billion deal between Boeing Co. and Iran Air.

The group said that the Iranian government should first compensate billions of dollars in damages to people affected by Tehran-backed militants.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the group’s director, told AP that they intend to seize all 100 airplanes in question.

“If Boeing thinks it will simply sell to Iran Air, which is 60 percent owned by the Iranian government, and pretend it is providing some sort of humanitarian civilian aid to a non-governmental entity, we will reveal the truth,” she added.

Darshan-Leitner and her organization have a reputation for representing victims of Iranian violence, having so far seized $200 million in seized Iranian bank accounts and assets on US soil.

The Law Center represents relatives of American victims of attacks occurring between 1995 and 2006 by groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and last year attempted to block the release of frozen Iranian assets following the US-led nuclear agreement with Tehran.

The group has even sued the Syrian, Iranian and Palestinian governments, settling for a publicity smear when compensation is unattainable.

“If an American company like Boeing is going to profit from multi-billion dollar business ventures with Iran, at least the terror victims will seize whatever Iranian assets are produced as a byproduct of the deal,” said Darshan-Leitner.

Matthew Levitt, director of the counterterrorism program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy told AP that this method can be very impactful, “both in terms of creating a legal record of Iran’s support for terrorism and in terms of providing closure and financial compensation to the victims and their families.”

“Collection can be challenging,” he added. “But firms have had much success in finding Iranian assets and making claims on them.”

Washington last year granted permission to Boeing and Airbus to sell the aircrafts to Iran, with the deal set to be the biggest agreement between an American company and the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

Boeing, although declining an AP request for immediate comments, has said that it intends on adhering closely to “all license requirements”, adding that the Iran Air deal “will support tens of thousands of US jobs.”