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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Palestinian groups seek relief from court order in terrorism case

Get out the world's smallest violin for the 'Palestinian Authority':

Al-AP is reporting that the Palestinian Authority is asking a federal judge to reconsider an order to pay nearly $200,000 to the estate of Yaron and Efrat Ungar, who died in a June 1996 attack that their lawyer says was carried out by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The Palestinian Authority claims that the PLO Mission in the United States will have to close if the money is turned over. Judgments have been entered against all of the defendants in the case.

And the case shows no sign of ending. Earlier this week, a lawyer for the Ungar family indicated that he wants the court's permission to seize $70 million that several Middle Eastern countries have contributed to help keep the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority financially afloat.

Now, really get that violin out, as al-AP reports:

Nabil Abuznaid, deputy chief of the PLO Mission, said Wednesday that lawsuits against the Palestinian groups are becoming more common and causing significant financial strain.

Abuznaid said the $200,000 at issue covers day-to-day operations of the office, including workers' salaries. "We cannot survive these conditions," he said. "There is no money. I don't know what we should do."


Last year, as the battles in court dragged on, the Rhode Island judge froze the groups' assets.

Attorney David J. Strachman, who represents the Ungar relatives, asked U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler to order the surrender of nearly $200,000 that the PLO Mission had in a bank account to put toward the outstanding $116 million judgment.

Last week, Kessler agreed, saying the Palestinian groups had presented "no facts" to support their contention that turning over the money would result in the closure of the PLO Mission here.

Earlier this week, Strachman also asked Kessler to force the League of Arab States to turn over an additional $70 million to the Ungar relatives. In a court filing, Strachman said several Middle Eastern countries came up with the money recently to help the Palestinian Authority stay afloat in spite of the cutoff in Western aid.

In April, the U.S. Treasury Department banned transactions with the Palestinian Authority because of the Hamas controversy, and the league cannot find a bank willing to assist in the transfer of the funds to the Palestinian groups, Strachman said.

In seeking reconsideration of Kessler's order on the $200,000, lawyers for the Palestinian groups asked for time to appeal and to allow the U.S. State Department to weigh in.

Over 200 Americans have been killed or injured in terror attacks in Israel since the year 2000.

The Ungar's children are being raised by Efrat's parents. The Ungars HY"D are buried next to the mother of one of my closest friends in the Gush Etzion cemetery.


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