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Monday, September 08, 2008

The $192.7 million catch

Just one week ago, an Israeli court ruled that the family of two American citizens who were terror victims, which sued the 'Palestine Liberation Organization' and the 'Palestinian Authority' in the United States, could sue the 'Palestinian Authority' in Israel to enforce a $116 million American judgment under the principle of comity. Anticipation of that kind of ruling caused the 'Palestinian Authority' a few months ago to rethink its strategy of not defending lawsuits against it in the US.

In 2002, 'Palestinian' terrorists burst into a Bat Mitzva celebration in Hadera and opened fire, murdering six people and wounding some thirty more. As a result of this terror attack, every wedding hall and Bar Mitzva celebration in Israel now has guards outside, although they take a lower profile than they did shortly after the attack. One of the victims of that attack, Aharon Ellis HY"D (may God avenge his blood), whose picture is at the top of this post, was an American citizen, and his family sued the 'Palestinians' in a Federal court in New York. The 'Palestinian Authority' and the 'Palestinian Liberation Organization' declined to defend the suit on the merits, arguing that they should be immune under a law called the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. But one court after another held that the two groups did not have the characteristics of a sovereign state and therefore were not covered by the act. In February, the PLO and the PA asked the US State Department to intervene. In June, the 'Palestinians' announced that they would defend the lawsuits, only to have a New York Federal judge in the Ellis case impose a $192.7 million bond to ensure that an eventual judgment against the 'Palestinians' would be paid.

Monday's New York Times is reporting that the court case has now veered into an examination of the 'Palestinian Authority's finances. While the 'Palestinians' are crying poverty, it is no great secret that their former leader, Yasser Arafat, socked away billions of dollars in Swiss bank accounts. Someone has the key to those accounts. Additionally, the court will look into how the 'Palestinian Authority' financed terror in what would be a precedent-setting case. Here's some of the Times' report:
The lawyer for Mr. Ellis’s family, David J. Strachman, has opposed any reduction in the bond, telling the court he believes the defendants are misleading the court and concealing property like valuable bank accounts that were once controlled by the P.L.O. chairman Yasir Arafat, who died in 2004.

“We think we can prove that there are hundreds of millions of dollars that are available in assets by both of these defendants,” Mr. Strachman said.

The court, which has not yet ruled on whether to reduce the bond, ordered the Palestinians to provide the family with a fuller accounting of properties and bank accounts. Late last month, the defendants filed new financial documents with the court.

Richard A. Hibey, a lawyer for the Palestinian defendants, has told the court that the documents will show how “this utterly insolvent, destitute operation runs.”

Neither Mr. Hibey nor Mr. Strachman would comment publicly. But legal experts said the case shows how hard it can be for victims of international terrorism to recover damages in the civil courts, even where there is a law passed on their behalf.

“Civil litigation, even in normal circumstances, is time-consuming, expensive, and you certainly can’t be certain of victory,” said John F. Murphy, a Villanova University law professor. “That kind of problem is exacerbated in the terrorist context.”


The attack occurred the night of Jan. 17, 2002, as he was performing before about 180 guests at the David’s Palace banquet hall in Hadera, where a girl was celebrating her bat mitzvah.

The gunman, Abdul Salaam Sadek Hassouneh, identified in court filings as a Palestinian Authority security officer, entered and opened fire on the crowd. Another singer later testified that Mr. Ellis had protected her from the bullets by pushing her down and laying on her, even after he had been shot. Mr. Hassouneh was eventually shot dead by police officers.

The lawsuit argued that the P.L.O. and the Palestinian Authority assisted in the planning and carrying out of the attack.


In ordering the bond and other conditions, the judge cited concerns about the defendants’ record of defaulting on judgments and not participating in the court process.

The filing of financial records late last month followed extensive debate over whether the defendants were providing a clear picture of their assets, as requested by the plaintiffs.

Mr. Strachman argued in court papers that the descriptions of Palestinian finances had been “woefully incomplete and frankly disingenuous.”

“The issue is: What assets do they have?” he told the court in July.

The defense lawyers, Mr. Hibey and Mark J. Rochon, who have denied those assertions, have said that the financial crisis was real. “It is not an overstatement,” they wrote, “to say that the current bond requirement would force defendants to choose between their ongoing viability and defending themselves in this case.”
Read the whole thing. The issue here is a very simple one: Are the 'Palestinians' going to stop getting a free ride that allows them to carry out terror attacks? The families of Yaron and Efrat Unger HY"D, David Boim HY"D and many others are waiting to hear the answer.


At 12:59 PM, Blogger YMedad said...

There's another story: Hibey. From Pollard to the Pals. You're allinvited to read.

At 5:07 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I would suggest finding people with standing to sue the 'palis' for their terror, and then have at them in multiple courts in multiple venues.

More than that, do the same with hizb and its fellow travelers. If hizb has money to set up al-minar in a location, they have money to pay those that they murdered.

Its time to make this conflict up-front and into their personal finances.

At 6:31 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Hitting them in their pocketbook is better than meaningless diplomatic protests. Much of the Palestinian incentive to commit terror could be eliminated if the Israeli government slapped on some sanctions.


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