The White House asked a judge Monday to “carefully consider” the size of the bond to be demanded from the Palestinian Authority (PA) for its role in orchestrating terror attacks against Israelis and Jews, according to a report in the New York Times. According to the paper, this amounts to direct interference with the case.
The case examined the role of the PLO in seven terror attacks which killed American citizens between the years 2000 and 2004. 11 families of victims and survivors were represented in the case, and the PLO was found liable to pay them $218.5 million. The figure was also set to triple under the anti-terrorism laws applied in the case, for a total payment of $655.5 million.
In May, however, the PA claimed it could not pay such a hefty fine, as it is struggling with billions of dollars in debt, despite a steady stream of foreign aid. It labelled the case “political extortion.”
Now, US President Barack Obama has supposedly asked the court to lower the fine against the PA, after a number of conflicts between the State and Justice Departments on the issue, according to an official involved who spoke to the New York Times.
In a document entitled “Statement of Interest of the United States of America,” the administration expressed concern over the impact of an astronomical fine on the PA’s ability to provide basic government services.
Demanding it pay “a significant portion of its revenues would likely severely compromise the P.A.’s ability to operate as a governmental authority,” deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken wrote. “A P.A. insolvency and collapse would harm current and future U.S.-led efforts to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
Blinken went on to emphasize the State Department stands by the victims’ right to to seek “just compensation.” The administration does not take issue with the case, he said, just the high fine.
“The United States strongly supports the rights of victims of terrorism to vindicate their interests in federal court and to receive just compensation for their injuries,” Blinken claimed.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department has maintained throughout that interference by the State Department on the matter would impede the victims’ rights for compensation and justice.