The US appeals court revives a $1 billion lawsuit against more than 30 Israel supporters including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, Oracle founder billionaire Larry EllisonLarry Ellison, Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi for support of Israeli settlements and alleged of conspiring to expel Palestinians out of the occupied territories and of war crimes, a U.S. appeals court ruled.
In 2016 US court dismissed a lawsuit by Palestinians for raising what judge Karen LeCraft Henderson said were political questions for which the court had no authority. The question included who has sovereignty over East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza and whether war crimes, including genocide, were being committed there.
The plaintiffs, including Palestinian village council, 18 Palestinians and Palestinian-Americans claim the banks, Adelson and others plotted to funnel millions of dollars to Israeli settlements, which spent the money to kill Palestinians and confiscate their property.
The unanimous ruling Tuesday by a three-judge panel, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit said the federal district judge wrongly concluded that all claims raised political questions that could not be decided in American courts.
According to Bloomberg Henderson said in a ruling joined by U.S. Circuit judges Nina Pillard and Harry Edwards: “A legal determination that Israeli settlers commit genocide in the disputed territory would not decide ownership of the disputed territory and thus would not directly contradict any foreign policy choice.”
According to Reuters US District Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington added it was “inappropriate” for her to resolve the issue of the settlements because it was “close to the heart of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and central to the United States’ foreign policy decision-making in the region.”
Circuit Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson said the only political question concerned who had sovereignty over the territories. Courts could rule “without touching the sovereignty question if it concluded that Israeli settlers are committing genocide, because genocide violated the law of nations, and could support the plaintiffs’ claim under the federal Alien Tort Statute, Reuters reports.
Among others, the defendants include former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman, the telecommunications company Motorola, Re/Max real estate company, construction firms, and former U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams and the United States.
Re/Max is accused of marketing former Arab-owned houses to potential U.S. and Israeli buyers, while Motorola allegedly sold security systems for the gated communities. Neither company’s representatives replied to requests for comment on the decision or allegations.
Abrams, accused of being a “self-appointed U.S. spokesman” for the Israeli settlements, is on leave from his Council on Foreign Relations fellowship. His office referred inquiries about the suit to the U.S. State Department, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Adelson is accused of contributing money toward the “violent expulsion” of the Palestinian population.
The case is Al-Tamimi et al v Adelson et al, D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 17-5207.