With the backing of the Obama administration, the PA is paying a much lower bond than originally demanded for abetting terror against American citizens.
Palestinian leaders found liable in a high-profile lawsuit over Americans killed in terrorist attacks must pay only $10 million in cash — and an additional $1 million monthly payment while the case is on appeal — to secure the hundreds of millions awarded by a jury, a US judge ruled Monday.
In ordering the security payment, Manhattan federal Judge George B. Daniels said he had given significant thought to a motion filed this month by Obama’s US State Department, which intervened in the case on behalf of the terrorists via the Department of Justice to argue a high bond could threaten the stability of the region by straining the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority (PA).
The payment also mirrored the amount proposed by a lawyer for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA, who argued that forcing the Palestinians to front an expensive bond payment would have dire human costs for the people living in the territories.
“Respectfully, a million means a lot to the Palestinian Authority,” Mitchell Berger told the judge, noting that the amount could cover welfare for 9,500 families or build one school in Gaza.
He did not note, however, that despite their financial woes, the PA somehow manages to secure millions to pay stipends to imprisoned terrorists to support their families and award released terrorists.
The plaintiffs have requested that the Palestinian government deposit $30 million per month while the case is on appeal.
Kent Yalowitz, a lawyer representing victims and survivors of attacks that killed 33 people and injured hundreds more, had asked that the Palestinians pay $20 million, describing the ordered payment as a “rounding error” for them. He said that the PA has more than enough funds to make a higher bond payment, arguing that it spends $60 million annually on paying terrorists held in Israeli prisons.
“I’m disappointed in the amount,” he said. “I’m eager to get the appellate process completed.”
If the Palestinians pay $10 million to the court by next month and then continue to make $1 million monthly payments, the jury-awarded damages will not be collected until the appeals court rules in the case, Daniels said.
A jury awarded $218.5 million in damages this year in a lawsuit brought by victims and survivors of a series of bombings and shootings in Israel from 2002 to 2004. The damages were automatically tripled by the US Anti-Terrorism Act to as much as $1.1 billion.
In two of the terror attacks, the attackers were PA police officers; in another, a suicide bomber was shown to have worked closely with the PA’s military intelligence office in planning the attack; and in a 2004 suicide bombing of a bus, in which 11 were killed and 50 wounded, PA police and security officials admitted to participating in the plot and making the bomb.
The plaintiffs also relied on internal records showing that the PA continued to pay the salaries of employees who were put behind bars for committing acts of terror and paid benefits to families of terrorists who died in the attacks. A defense lawyer argued that there was no evidence that Palestinian authorities had approved the attacks, as alleged in the lawsuit.
Lawyers for the Palestinians have vowed to appeal. A State Department spokesman declined to comment Monday on the judge’s order.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
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