The Palestinian Authority (PA) recently asked U.S. federal courts to
reopen cases it lost after refusing to defend itself against
Judgments would come from U.S. and international aid, the PA argues.
In both cases, Palestinian terrorists murdered American citizens. In
New York, Aharon Ellis' widow sued the PA for the lethal 2002 shooting
of her husband and the father of their six children, during an Al Aqsa
Martyr Brigade attack of a Bat Mitzvah, in Israel. The court awarded
Leslye Knox $193 million, including interest, but the PA refuses to
A Rhode Island case centers on the June 1996 double murders of U.S.
citizens Yaron Ungar and his pregnant wife Efrat, both 25. Three
Palestinian terrorists shot them to death in Beit Shemesh, west of
Jerusalem. The PA was ordered to pay their families $116 million, which
the PA also refuses to do.
Neither award was "by default," as the PA now argues. Several law
firms represented the defendants in New York making hundreds of
procedural motions and appealing twice, all while the PA refused to
answer to the charges. However, they never denied their guilt.
In Rhode Island, the Palestinians' law firms, including that of
former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, claimed sovereign immunity.
The court nixed that claim and in August 2005 , froze PA assets in the
U.S., including over $1.3 billion in the Palestinian Investment Fund,
and $30 million in the Palestinian Monetary Authority.
Meanwhile, the PA's 2005 and 2006 appeals didn't sway the U.S. State
Department to intervene. The Supreme Court's decision not to review
that case renders the judgment "final and enforceable in United States
courts," said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who proposed the PA
explore "out of court solutions ... to avoid enforcement actions" and
The PA's desire to use the U.S. government to prevent the victims
from collecting rightful and lawful awards was denied in March 2008.
"The United States supports just compensation for victims of terrorism
from those responsible for their losses," said Deputy Assistant
Attorney General, Carl Nichols, though he noted the "potentially
significant impact that these cases may have on the financial and
political viability of the defendants." The PA seems to bank on that
PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wants the cases reopened not to
challenge its guilt. If PA funds were seized to satisfy outstanding
judgments, Mr. Fayyad argues in U.S. federal courts, "Donors may
hesitate to contribute funds to the Palestinians." Further, Mr. Fayyad
pleads PA poverty. Relying on five-year-old financial statements. He
claims the PA has only $800 million, although he admits that this does
not include PA pension funds or the Palestinian Investment Fund - not
to mention $22 million paid annually to Suha Arafat since her husband's
2004 death, or hidden PA assets probably up exponentially since they
were estimated at $10 billion in 1993.
From 1994 to early 2007, the PA received between $14 billion and $20
billion from Europe and the United States, the Funding for Peace
Coalition (FPC) reported to the British parliament.
Despite purported PA poverty and Fatah-Hamas disagreements, the PA
announced on January 15, 2008 its intentions to give Hamas, a
U.S.-designated terrorist organization since 1995, "40 percent" ($3.1
billion) of the $7.4 billion pledged in December 2007 by international
donors. Evidently, the donors did not take this statement seriously,
and from January to June 2008, gave the PA $920 million in direct
Fifteen months ago, Fayyad told London's Daily Telegraph: "No one
can give donors the assurance" that funds reach designated
destinations. "Where is all the transparency; It's gone." Controlling
Palestinian finances, he concluded, "is virtually impossible." World
Bank and other reports document PA financial chaos and corruption, too.
Yet, none of this has turned the donors money spigot off.
Clearly, the Palestinians are in no danger of losing funding from
their international donors. Now, that a Fatah and Hamas power-sharing
government is around the corner, the donors will surely go out of their
way to reward the new government with even larger sums. The
Palestinians, in a time-honored fashion, will use these donor's funds
against Israel and its citizens, as they have done since 1994.
As for Fayyad's appeals, they are irrelevant in U.S. federal courts.
The PA never denied its role in the murders, failed to defend itself,
and lost in court fair and square, not "by default." It's time justice
be done and the courts force the PA to pay every dime they owe the