|Aftermath of a January 27, 2002 human bomb attack on central Jerusalem's
Jaffa Road, directly across the street from the Sbarro pizzeria,
A relevant terrorism law provides for the automatic tripling of the $218.5 million damages awarded by the jury. (The plaintiffs’ attorney sought an order of $350 million.) So the defendants are ordered to pay $655.5 million. According to the New York Times report,
In at least two previous cases, in which judges entered default judgments against them for more than $100 million, the groups reached confidential settlements, court records show.So there's some history of extracting money from them. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that if the Palestinian Arab entities fail to pay, the groups’ assets can be seized in the United States and elsewhere.
This case was filed by the plaintiffs in 2004. A decade is a long time for a case to run its course, but the likelihood is there will be still more delays before the court-ordered damages are collected. To no one's great surprise, the PA have said they will appeal. Mahmoud Khalifa, their deputy minister of information, says the PA are
"confident that we will prevail, as we have faith in the U.S. legal system and are certain about our common sense belief and our strong legal standing. This case is just the latest attempt by hard-line antipeace factions in Israel to use and abuse the U.S. legal system to advance their narrow political and ideological agenda..." [New York Times]
But meanwhile, it's clear that several things of enduring importance have been achieved. In the words of the NYT report:
While the decision on Monday was a huge victory for the dozens of plaintiffs, it could also serve to strengthen Israel’s claim that the supposedly more moderate Palestinian forces were directly linked to terrorism.Does the word claim really belong in that last sentence? A jury and a judge sat listening to testimony and evaluating piles of evidence for nearly seven weeks. In the end, they found they had a solid basis for deciding and so they handed down a resounding verdict. The evidence made it impossible to ignore, and the political spinmeisters with their pretentious circumlocutions ("violent extremism" is an egregious example) are not allowed into the court.
The plaintiffs are 10 families, about three dozen people. Eight individual plaintiffs had been physically injured in the attacks; many of the others were "left with deep psychological scars, testimony showed" (NYT). In all, the terror attacks that underpin the case took the lives of 33 people and left more than 450 injured.
The law under which the action was brought - the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows cases dealing with international terrorism to be heard in United States courts - requires that the injured and dead must be Americans. The number of plaintiffs would have been far larger otherwise.
|The usually taciturn Mahmoud Abbas comes perilously
close to smiling as he and freshly released life-term
murdering terrorists strut and high-five in a Ramallah
victory parade, August 13, 2013 [Image Source]
Those scenes - like the one depicted in the photo on the right - are indelibly engraved in our memory. We expressed the despair of seeing and hearing it happen in several posts like, for instance, "25-Aug-13: Wake up call for those who thought the terrorists are walking free for peace", written after we witnessed the murderers of unarmed Jews
placed on pedestals and given lavish foreign-funded pensions for life... Abbas, who ought to be believed on such things, says this has nothing to do with making peace.
|PLO's Ashrawi in Ramallah yesterday: “We cannot pay.
We do not have this money... the Authority is fighting
for its survival. If it collapses, there will be consequences for
the entire world.” [Image Source]
In fact, as the NY Times account reports,
the plaintiffs showed that many of those involved in the planning and carrying out of the attacks had been employees of the Palestinian Authority, and that the authority had paid salaries to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and had made martyr payments to the families of suicide bombers [New York Times]and certainly still do today, they might have added.
How much does that cost? Back in 2011, Palestinian Media Watch presented data to US Congressional lawmakers showing the monthly PA outlay on salaries to convicted and imprisoned terrorists came to more than $5 million per month. Assume it has not shrunk since then, and we are talking of about $65 million per year at least. Now terminate that illegal and immoral policy immediately and the PA will have been able to set aside enough in the next decade to satisfy its liability under the verdict. (But holding breaths would probably be a mistake.)
The day their financial condition renders them unable to keep making those payments (may it come soon!) will be one of celebration for those Palestinian Arabs who understand the corrosive effect on their lives of the Arafat/Abbas/Hamas circles' addiction to terror.