Monday, February 23, 2015

Jury Awards $218.5 Million Against PLO and Palestiinan Authority

A Manhattan jury has awarded $218.5 million damages to the families of civilians killed and injured by attacks by Palestinians inside Israel, the New York Times reports.  The action was brought under the Anti-Terrorism act which creates a cause of action even for acts occurring outside the United States. The act provides for treble damages plus costs of suit to be awarded to victims who suffer "by reason of an act of international terrorism".  The causal language is so broad that the Palestinian Authority and PLO were held responsible for acts which they politically opposed. The Times reports that
The defense had argued that their clients had nothing to do with the attacks. Mark J. Rochon, a defense lawyer, told the jury on Thursday that he did not want “the bad guys, the killers, the people who did this, to get away while the Palestinian Authority or the P.L.O. pay for something they did not do.”
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the P.L.O.’s executive committee who testified for the defense, told the jury, “We tried to prevent violence from all sides.”
But citing testimony, payroll records and other documents, the plaintiffs showed that many of those involved in the planning and carrying out of the attacks had been employees of the Palestinian Authority, and that the authority had paid salaries to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and made martyr payments to the families of suicide bombers.
Such a verdict presents a policy dilemma for the U.S. and European countries which fund and support the moderate leaders of the Palestinian Authority.  The Palestinian Authority is formally a governmental partner of Hamas and the PLO includes groups who have relied on attacks on civilian though the leadership of the Authority and the Organization generally opposes such measures and is barely on speaking terms with Hamas which governs Gaza. - gwc

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