US intervenes in case against Palestinians over Israel attacks
WASHINGTON - Agence France-Presse
Palestinian Hamas militants rest on grass after taking part in an anti-Israel military parade in Beit Hanoun town in the northern Gaza Strip August 11, 2015. Reuters PhotoThe United States said on August 11 it has intervened in a lawsuit against Palestinian authorities over attacks in Israel that killed and injured Americans, arguing that a high bond could compromise the Palestinians' financial stability.
A US jury in February found the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) liable for the six attacks between 2002 and 2004, which killed 33 people and wounded more than 390 others.
The families were awarded more than $218 million in damages, which was automatically tripled to about $650 million, according to the regulations outlined in the US anti-terrorism act.
The US State Department said it had filed a Statement of Interest -- not on behalf of either party -- but to express concerns over the possible bond amount that could be issued in the case, according to deputy spokesman Mark Toner.
The bond amount would be required for the Palestinian Authority to appeal the decision.
The filing cited "US concerns about the harms that could arise if the ability of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to operate as a governmental authority is severely compromised," said Toner.
It also said "critical US national security and foreign policy interests" should be considered, while acknowledging victim compensation was important.
It pointed to "US government interests in supporting the rights of victims of terrorism to vindicate their interests in federal court and to receive just compensation for their injuries," Toner said.
The landmark trial lasted more than five weeks, and the 12-member jury decided unanimously that the PA and PLO were liable on 25 separate counts connected to the attacks.
The bombings and shootings were carried out by Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- blacklisted as terrorist organizations in the United States -- during the second Palestinian uprising against Israel.
The damages awarded fell well short of the $1 billion sought by lawyers for 11 plaintiff families.