NY Court Rules Sets US Terror Victims Case For Trial Against Palestinian Authority
Federal Judge Finds Sufficient Evidence of Palestinian Authority Support for Terrorist Operations
New York, NY, November 20, 2014 – The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has ruled that the families of eleven American terrorist victims can proceed to trial against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The families’ civil lawsuit, originally brought in 2004, will be tried in January 2015, according to the Court. In a 23-page ruling, the Court rejected the defendants’ request to have the case dismissed, finding that there was sufficient evidence to present to a jury concerning the PA and PLO’s provision of material support and resources for seven separate attacks in Israel that killed and injured the American citizens. The court also found that the jury could hold the PA vicariously liable on six of the seven attacks.
The families filed suit under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The law, passed by Congress after the 1985 murder of Leon Klinghoffer by the PLO, permits US citizens injured in terrorist attacks outside of the United States to bring lawsuits in the American federal courts. The plaintiffs are seeking $1 billion in damages.
The eleven families are represented by attorneys Kent Yalowitz of Arnold & Porter in New York and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel Aviv, Israel.
The Court’s decision found sufficient evidence that a jury could determine that, during the Al Aqsa Intifada (between 2001 and 2004), employees of the PA perpetrated terrorist attacks against civilians in Israel. In addition, the court found that the evidence was sufficient for a jury to conclude that the PA and PLO provided terrorists with weapons, money, and other material support in violation of the Anti-Terror laws. Moreover, the Court held that the jury could find that the PA provided safe haven to the terrorist allowing them to operate unimpeded from the areas under its control and provided material support to designated terrorist organizations, Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
The January trial to be held in Manhattan will be the first opportunity for American terrorist victims to present evidence of the PA’s culpability for attacks which left more than a thousand civilians in Israel dead.
In papers opposing the summary judgment motion filed in June, Yalowitz told the Court: “Defendants are desperate to avoid a trial. Recently, they told the Court that it would be a serious problem for them to have a ‘New York jury sit in judgment of [our] employment and social welfare policies’ with regard to convicted terrorists. [DE 508 at 9.] Indeed it would. The evidence is overwhelming, disturbing, and ultimately repulsive.”
Reacting to the Court’s decision, Yalowitz said: “We are looking forward to presenting the evidence to the jury.”
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner stated: “For years the PA provided funding and every measure of support for the murderous terrorist operations in Israel that devastated the country and left so many civilians dead. The decision and trial will provide an unprecedented opportunity to present to a New York jury all that the evidence that has been amassed documenting the Palestinians use of terrorism as an official policy to advance their goals.”