The Obama administration has intervened in a lawsuit brought by American victims of Palestinian terror attacks, seeking a lesser judgment against the Palestinian government.
The Wall Street Journal reports that in February, a federal jury in New York City found the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian Liberation Organization liable for injuries to and the deaths of American citizens in six separate terror attacks that took place in Israel between 2002 and 2004.
The court ordered the two organizations to pay $218.5 million to the victims and their families, and the damages are automatically tripled under the U.S. Anti-terrorism Act–bringing the total to $655.5 million.
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Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken intervened, filing a statement of interest in the case arguing that requiring the PA to pay such a large sum of money could bankrupt the government and greatly hinder the administration’s efforts to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
“The United States respectfully urges the Court to carefully consider the impact of its decision on the continued viability of the PA in light of the evidence about its financial situation,” Blinken writes in his statement. “In furtherance of U.S. policy interests, the United States had provided billions of dollars in in assistance to strengthen Palestinian institutions…and help create the conditions for peace. An event that deprives the PA of a significant portion of its revenues would likely severely compromise the PA’s ability to operate as a governmental authority,” he explains. Furthermore, “A PA insolvency and collapse would harm current and future U.S.-led efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Kent Yalowitz, attorney for the victims, believes the State Department is failing to recognize one important fact in siding with the PA’s claim that it lacks the ability to pay the victims of the terror attacks: the Palestinian policy of putting convicted terrorists on the government’s payroll as soon as they are jailed. “If the PA has enough money to pay convicted terrorists, it has enough to pay the judgment in this case,” Yalowitz said.
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“There was really no reason for them to even get involved,” said Gould, whose daughter Shayna was shot in the chest and nearly killed by Palestinian terrorists. “For the Obama administration to stick their fingers where they don’t belong is unconscionable.”
Shayna Gould said the PA had been hinting that the U.S. government would get involved for quite some time.
“It was a fear. It was a huge fear,” she said, adding that the PA should be forced to finally pay up.
“They, with pride, give money and rank of the highest honor to terrorists and people who commit murder,” Gould said. “Does that sound like clipping coupons and saving pennies?”
“I have to deal with [the impact of their violence] in my life on a constant basis,” Gould added, explaining that she deals with physical pain on a daily basis since the attack.
President Obama has stated his desire on multiple occasions to see an independent Palestinian state established. In 2013 during a visit to Ramallah, he said: “I’ve returned to the West Bank because the United States is deeply committed to the creation of an independent and sovereign state of Palestine.
“The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it.” he added.
Obama’s chief of staff, Dennis McDonough, repeated the charge in March of this year, saying: “An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end…”
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Obama’s labeling of Israel as an occupying force generated significant controversy at the time. The Jewish state took control of the West Bank during the Six Day War in 1967. Prior to that time, it was controlled by Jordan, which had seized the land in 1948 after Israel declared its independence following the end of British colonial rule.
As reported by Western Journalism, the Obama administration in March also threatened to pull its support for Israel at the United Nations, opening the way for an imposed two-state solution by the international body, which has a long history of antipathy towards the Jewish state.
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