Israel PM hails US verdict over Palestinian attacks
JERUSALEM - Agence France-Presse
Backdropped by Jerusalem's Old City Ottoman walls, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a press conference on Feb 23. AFP PhotoIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Feb. 24 hailed the verdict of a New York court which found the Palestinian leadership responsible for six deadly attacks in Jerusalem that killed Americans.
The decision clearly showed the Palestinian leadership was responsible for the bloodshed, exposing its move to join the International Criminal Court to sue Israel as a sham, Netanyahu said in a statement issued just hours after the verdict.
"The US federal court decision determines the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority for the murderous terrorist attacks of the previous decade," he said.
"Instead of drawing the requisite lesson, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is advancing steps that endanger regional stability such as the hypocritical application to the International Criminal Court even as it is allied with the Hamas terrorist organisation."
He said the international community should be moving "to punish those who support terrorism" and demonstrate support for those fighting it - in a clear call for world support for Israel's opposition to the Palestinian bid to join the Hague-based court, with membership due to take effect in early April.
In a verdict issued late on Monday, a US jury found the Ramallah-based PA and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) responsible for six attacks which killed 33 people and wounded more than 390 others between January 2002 and January 2004.
The attacks were carried out by militants from Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed offshoot of the Fatah movement headed at the time by the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and later taken over by current president Mahmud Abbas.
It held both the PA and the PLO liable and ordered them to pay those wounded and the victims' families more than $218 million in damages.
Under the US anti-terrorism act, the damages are automatically tripled, meaning the full amount is more than $650 million.
Israel welcomed the decision as a "moral victory" but the Palestinians charged that the lawsuit was politically motivated and vowed to appeal.
The total falls well short of the $1 billion sought by lawyers for 11 plaintiff families when the trial opened in mid-January.