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Report: $3 billion US Lawsuit Could Spell Doom for Palestinian Plans to Petition Hague Criminal Court

The closing arguments in the case were given Thursday, and the jury could announce a verdict on Monday

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinian officials who have embarked on a path of suing the state of Israel for alleged war crimes, are growing apprehensive over a trial nearing conclusion in the U.S., the landmark $1 billion civil suit brought against the PA by victims of suicide bombings, AP reports.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say the damages awarded in Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization would be automatically tripled, because they had to do with terrorism.

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The families claim the PLO and the PA financed and orchestrated the following seven attacks:

(1) The January 8, 2001 shooting attack on Varda Guetta and her son Oz;

(2) The January 22, 2002 shooting attack on Shayna Gould and Shmuel Waldman;

(3)The January 27, 2002 suicide bombing attack on the Sokolow family;

(4) The March 21, 2002 suicide bombing attack on Alan Bauer and his son Yehonatan;

(5) The June 19, 2002 suicide bombing attack on Shaul Mandelkorn;

(6) The July 31, 2002 Hebrew University Cafeteria bombing which killed David Gritz, Benjamin Blustein, Diane Carter and Janis Coulter;

(7) The January 29, 2004 suicide bombing attack on a bus which killed Yechezkel Goldberg.

Should the plaintiffs in the case win in New York federal court, it would seriously damage the Palestinians’ ability to bring war crimes charges against Israel.

The billion dollar lawsuit was filed over a series of deadly attacks in Israel that killed 33 and wounded hundreds, several of them American citizens, between 2001 and 2004.

A ruling against the PA will undermine its attempt to enlist broad support for the International Criminal Court in The Hague hearing their case.

Also, should the plaintiffs win, a verdict could burden the PA with billions of dollars in damages, possibly bankrupting it.

AP cites senior Palestinian officials who say Ramallah is watching the case closely.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, director of the Israel-based Shurat HaDin Law Center, who represents the victims’ families, suggested a victory for her side ” will definitely have an impact, ” proving once and for all that the PA security service was behind the suicide bombings and the shooting.

“Those involved in the attacks still receive salaries from the Palestinian Authority and still get promoted in rank while in jail, ” Darshan-Leitner said, pointing to the Palestinian “martyr’s foundation.”

The lawsuit was initially filed in 2004, under the Anti-terrorism Act of 1991, seeking $1 billion from the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The closing arguments in the case were given Thursday, and the jury could announce a verdict on Monday—or any time afterwards.



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