Obama Plots to Thwart Justice for U.S. Victims of Palestinian Terrorism
The administration considers intervening in landmark case against Palestinian terrorists.
On February 23, 2015, a federal jury in New York sided with 10 American families, finding the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) liable for six terrorist attacks occurring in Israel over a decade ago. The families were awarded $218.5 million for a series of terrorist acts attributed to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas, perpetrated between 2002 and 2004 during the Second Intifada. On Monday, the Obama administration indicated it might intervene in the case — possibly on behalf of the Palestinian terrorists.
That’s because the stakes are huge for these two cash-strapped entities. The Antiterrorism Act of 1992 authorizes “any U.S. national injured in his or her person, property, or business by reason of an act of international terrorism to bring a civil action in U.S. district court and recover treble damages and the cost of the suit, including attorney’s fees,” the act states. Thus, the award of $218.5 million could triple to $655.5 million. When interest is included, calculated to be $165 million, which would also be tripled, the total potential liability runs to $1.15 billion. That sum is equal to nearly a third of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget of operations.
Both groups intend to appeal the verdict, insisting they are not responsible “for the actions of individuals” involved in the carnage. “The Palestinian Liberation Organization [sic] and the Palestinian National Authority are deeply disappointed by the adverse decision issued today in a New York court,” said Mahmoud Khalifa, PA deputy minister of information, after the verdict was announced. “The charges that were made against us are baseless … we will appeal this decision.”
In the meantime, Kent Yalowitz, the families' attorney, requested that the two organizations place $30 million per month in escrow while the process proceeds. U.S. District Judge George Daniels indicated he was inclined to require Palestinians to post some sort of bond, as a means of showing “some meaningful demonstration that the defendant is ready and willing to pay the judgment.”
PA attorney Mitchell Berge spelled out the implications. “This could be the end of the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “And that’s why we’re here to argue over the judgment.”
Enter the Obama administration’s Department of Justice. Despite having no prior involvement in the 11 year old case, the DOJ notified the court last month that it was considering filing a “statement of interest” in the case by Aug. 10. A source told FoxNews.com both the DOJ and the State Department were working together on the issue. There was no elaboration as to what that implied. “As the filing states, the United States is considering whether to submit a Statement of Interest in the [Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization] matter,” a DOJ spokeswoman stated. “Any filing would be made on behalf of the United States, not on behalf of any other party.”
Yalowitz wasn’t buying it. He suspects the Obama administration’s potential intervention is about preventing the Palestinian leadership from paying the bond, due to their precarious financial position. “An administration which claims to be fighting terror is planning to weigh in favor of the terrorists,” he insisted. “If our government actually came in favor of convicted terrorists, it would be a really sorry statement about the way our government treats terror.”
Palestinian assertions of non-responsibility for attacks that killed 33 people and wounded over 450, ring exceedingly hollow. The six attacks were carried out in the area of Jerusalem. Two of them were perpetrated by PA police officers. One suicide bomber was closely linked to a PA military intelligence officer, and following the 2004 suicide bombing of a bus, PA police and security officials confessed to both planning that attack and constructing the bomb used in it. Every one of the jailed terrorists, along their families, were paid by the PA government for their murderous spree. And as the Jewish Press reminds us, “(t)he bigger the attack and the higher the damage, the bigger the stipend, to this very day.”
That would be the same Palestinian Authority that currently receives a whopping $400 million per year in aid from the United States.
Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Fox News contributor, John Bolton, seemingly shares Yalowitz’s suspicions. He insists the U.S. would be in error asserting a diplomatic role in this case. “Palestine is not a state, and is therefore, not entitled to be treated like a state,” he declared. “It does not enjoy sovereign immunity and it would be wrong for the United States government to argue otherwise in federal court.”
Bolton is apparently referring to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of 1976 preventing lawsuits against foreign countries in U.S. courts. And he is correct in asserting the United States does not recognize Palestine as a state.
At least not yet.
Not that Obama isn’t trying to move the needle. Last month in an interview with an Israeli television network, Obama insisted the current impasse in the so-called peace process — one that has invariably consisted of demands for concessions from Israel absent anything remotely resembling quid pro quo on the part of the Palestinians — was “very dangerous for Israel.” Our imperious leader also took another condescending shot at his long-time nemesis, Benjamin Netanyahu, characterizing the Israeli Prime Minister as “somebody who’s predisposed to think of security first; to think perhaps that peace is naive; to see the worst possibilities as opposed to the best possibilities in Arab partners or Palestinian partners,” Obama insisted.
Perhaps that predisposition towards security has something to do with the reality that since Israel unilaterally ceded Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005, Hamas has launched more than 14,000 rockets and mortar bombs at the Jewish State. Another 4,000 rockets were fired into Israel by Hezbollah during the war with that terror group in 2006. It might also have something to do with the Obama administration’s horrendous deal with Iran, a country that has underwritten the efforts of both Hamas and Hezbollah to realize Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s ambition to annihilate Israel and America. An ambition he reasserted four days after the nuclear agreement was finalized.
Furthermore, nothing could me more absurd than Obama taking anyone to task for their naiveté. The Iranian deal will ultimately free up as much as $150 billion in revenue for the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, and Obama admitted while they might use some of that money to pursue terrorist activities, he doesn’t believe the additional revenue will be a “game changer.” He further insisted Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will have to spend money on domestic programs because he was elected “specifically on the premise of improving the economic situation inside of Iran.”
For those Americans who misunderstand the power structure in that nation, think of Rouhani as the president of the high school student council. Think of Khamenei, who has eagerly participated in his nation’s chants of “Death to Israel, Death to the U.S.,” as the high school principal. In other words, it’s Khamenei who ultimately calls the shots.
Nonetheless, the administration insists the deal with Iran is an historic breakthrough, despite all the dangerous implications that surround it — and all the administration lies that made it possible. It is this administration’s instinctive ability to lie unashamedly that makes its insistence it will only intervene on behalf of the United States in this lawsuit highly suspect. And it is highly suspect for the simplest of reasons: what kind of intervention would be necessary to provide on behalf of American families who won their case against against the PA and the PLO? The answer will be forthcoming by August 10. Stay tuned.
Originally published at FrontPage Magazine.