US court throws out $655 million verdict against Palestinian Authority

A federal court of appeals threw out a verdict by a New York jury that found the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization liable for seven attacks that took place in present-day Israel and Jerusalem between 2000 and 2004.

The attacks had claimed the lives of 33 people and injured many more.

In February 2015, a jury awarded plaintiffs, 11 American families whose relatives were victims of the attacks, $218.5 million of the original $1 bilion dollars sought in damages.

Damages in cases filed under the Anti-Terrorism Act are automatically tripled, making the total the PA would have been required to pay $655.5 million.

But the federal appeals court in New York found on Wednesday that the US federal district court in Manhattan lacked the jurisdiction to try the civil case.

The case had been initiated by the lawfare group Shurat HaDin in 2004.

The Israeli group, which has ties to the Mossad spy agency and operates under the motto “bankrupting terror,” has used the Anti-Terrorism Act to file a number of civil lawsuits against Palestinian institutions or groups working with Palestinians.

The Anti-Terrorism Act allows victims of international terrorism to sue individuals, organizations and institutions in US courts if a sufficient connection to the US can be established.

Writing for a panel of three justices, Judge John G. Koeltl found that the attacks had been random and not “expressly aimed at the United States.”

This is the second blow to lawfare efforts by Israel advocates in less than a year. In December 2015, a US court ruled that thousands of non-US citizens could not sue the Arab Bank for alleged attacks in and around Israel.

In the case against the Palestinian authorities, plaintiffs had argued that the PA and the PLO had enabled and incentivized the execution of attacks and provided material support for their execution. Palestinian defendants maintained the perpetrators had acted independently.

Media reports described a “politically charged” trial that lasted seven weeks, during which jurors heard emotional testimonies from family members of those killed.

Following the verdict, the trial judge had placed a $10 million bond on the PA, significantly less than typically required.

In an unusual move, the Obama administration had asked Judge George Daniels to set a lower bond, warning that an excessive financial burden could lead to the collapse of the US-backed PA, on which Israel also depends to help enforce the occupation and protect its settlers in the West Bank.

Writing on behalf of the US, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that the US has provided billions of dollars to Palestinian institutions.

“The PA and Israel currently have mechanisms and channels for security coordination, helping to maintain security for Palestinians and Israelis living in the West Bank, and identifying and thwarting potential terrorist attacks in Israel,” Blinken wrote. “The collapse of the PA would break this channel of coordination.”

Because the United States does not recognize Palestine as a state, the PA and the PLO were not eligible for sovereign immunity, a protection Israeli officials have enjoyed to avoid accountability in the US and other venues for war crimes against Palestinians.




This is a great result.

A similar effort in Sydney Australia against a Sydney University Professor Jake Lynch fail a year or so back.

The one thing that can be said for this mob is when the going gets rough, when they have to put up funds to guarantee that they have the money to pay the expenses of the other side, when and if they lose, they lose heart.

Boastful; and loud mouthed but no guts.


Charlotte Silver describes exactly the purpose of the PA. “The PA and Israel currently have mechanisms and channels for security coordination, helping to maintain security for Palestinians and Israelis living in the West Bank, and identifying and thwarting potential terrorist attacks in Israel,” The problem however is the pathetic lying of an US official. The security of illegally trespassing israelis is mantained but the security of Palestinians in their own land is constantly in danger against which the PA is doing nothing. On the contrary. The PA is furthering the israeli terror against it's own Palestinian population. The role of the PA and Abbas is comparable with Rumkowski and his Judenrat in Lodz during the war. Despicable collaborators with the Nazis who sold out their fellow . prisoners to the Nazis. The PA and Abbas should abolish. Not tomorrow , not today but yesterday. First degree traitors of the Palestinian people


The US courts are totally inappropriate for this kind of lawsuit. It should never have been entertained by a US court.


While this is good news, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Blinken's citing of "billions" granted by his government to Palestinian institutions shouldn't be taken as support for the people themselves, least of all for the goal of ensuring their freedom. The United States government has never given a cent towards the cause of justice for Palestine. The aim of these contributions has always been to foster a Palestinian neo-colonial elite to placate and/or repress (mostly the latter) the restive population living under Israeli oppression. His plea on behalf of the PA is simply a call for renewing the unacceptable status quo. He's asking the judge not to make conditions so financially onerous for Mahmoud Abbas and his confederates that they may lose control of the municipalities under their nominal governance.


Oldenburg, Germany, has formally apologized for its publication of a pro-boycott Israel article in its September magazine.

“With the publication of this article from the field of the so-called BDS campaign, we made a big mistake,“ Heinz Bührmann, chairman of the of Education and Science Workers’ Union (GEW) in Oldenburg, wrote on Monday. The local union’s parent-teacher organization termed BDS “anti-Semitic” on its Twitter feed.


Thanks for bringing this sad comedy to wider attention. The offending item appeared in a magazine published by the Education and Science Workers' Union (GEW) branch in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony. Interestingly, the union's local chairman Heinz Buhrmann's repudiation of the article inadvertently drew a distinction shared by advocates of BDS: "The GEW rejects a boycott of Israel AND anti-Semitic positions." Buhrmann hastened to exonerate the executive board of imputations of racism- apparently he'd been bombarded with complaints from various pro-Israel organizations. And he added, rather pathetically as well as ironically in the case of a teachers' union, that the "mistake" had arisen as the result of his own and his associates' complete ignorance on the subject of the boycott movement. He has now assured his detractors that a virtual anthology of statements opposing BDS will shortly appear in the district organization's paper.

Through a succession of ghastly regimes and monstrous wars of aggression, German teachers distinguished themselves in their firm resolve never to challenge the orthodoxies of state and party. It would seem that the current generation of educators can be relied on to uphold that proud standard.


If Buhrmann's was not just covering his arse when he stated that he and his associates were completely ignorant of BDS, then the good news is that he and his associates are now aware. The problem that pro-Israel supporters have re BDS is that the very act of trying to stifle BDS acts to raise its profile. If pro-Israeli supporters just ignored pro-BDS articles, it would take longer for BDS and justice for Palestinians to make inroads into peoples' consciousness. But anti-BDS supporters just can't help themselves and indulge in overkill. The greater and wider the discussion, the better. Some readers may just take a bit more notice and some of those some may well start to question the whole issue of Israel and the dispossession of the Palestinians.


It would be interesting to know who ended up paying the court costs for this failed act of lawfare. It would be ironic if Shurat HaDin ended up bankrupting itself in its attempts to bankrupt 'terror'. Its donors may have deep pockets but too many failures may not go down too well.

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.