The Obama administration has asked a judge Monday to “carefully consider” the size of the bond demanded from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its role orchestrating years of terror attacks against Israelis and Jews – directly interfering in a US court case.
In February, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – the terror group behind the PA – was found liable to pay $218.5 million to victims of terror, a figure that was set to be tripled to $655.5 million according to the anti-terrorism laws under which the case was brought.
Legal rights group Shurat Hadin (Israel Law Center) helped represent the 11 families who charge the PA and PLO of inciting, supporting, planning and executing the seven terror attacks which killed American citizens between 2000 and 2004.
In May, the PA admitted it cannot pay such a hefty fine, however – as the country is struggling under billions of debt despite an ongoing stream of aid from Israel and other countries – and called the case “political extortion.”
Now, US President Barack Obama is reportedly seeking to lower that fine – following a series of conflicts between officials from the State Department and the Justice Department over the issue, an official involved in the case told the New York Times Tuesday.
In a document entitled “Statement of Interest of the United States of America,” the Obama administration expressed concerns over the payments hurting the PA’s basic government services.
Forcing the PLO to pay “a significant portion of its revenues would likely severely compromise the P.A.’s ability to operate as a governmental authority,” deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken wrote. “A P.A. insolvency and collapse would harm current and future U.S.-led efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Blinken stressed in the document, however, that the State Department allegedly values the rights of terror victims to seek “just compensation” and was not taking a position on the case itself, only on the high bond.
“The United States strongly supports the rights of victims of terrorism to vindicate their interests in federal court and to receive just compensation for their injuries,” Blinken claimed.
Justice Department officials have maintained throughout the proceedings that any State Department interference in the case would interfere with the victims’ rights for compensation and justice.