dinsdag 24 februari 2015

PA en PLO schuldig bevonden aan aanzet tot terrorisme

Proces in New York veroordeelt de PA tot betaling van 655 miljoen dollar.

 

De uitspraak van de federale rechtbank in New York heeft de PA en PLO (mede)schuldig aan  en verantwoordelijk bevonden voor 6 terroristische aanslagen tussen 2002 en 2004 in Israel door Palestijnse terroristen, die handelden in opdracht van de Al Aqsa Martelaren Brigade en Hamas. De slachtoffers en nabestaanden, Amerikanen, krijgen 218 miljoen dollar, vermeerderd met een factor 3 vanwege de antiterrorismewet in de VS. Het proces heeft een lange aanloopperiode gekend doordat de PA voortdurend heeft geprobeerd het uit te stellen. Maar, nadat in november vorig jaar besloten was dat dit proces gevoerd kon worden, is gisteren de uitspraak in New York geweest. De argumenten van de PA, dat zij niet verantwoordelijk was en zelfs de aanslagen veroordeelde, werden niet geaccepteerd onder andere doordat de terroristen en hun familie tot op de dag van vandaag een pensioen ontvangen dat hoger is naarmate de aanslag ernstiger was. Ook werden aanslagplegers die in Israelische gevangenissen zaten door de PA gepromoveerd in functie.

De consekwenties voor de PA zijn aanzienlijk. Niet alleen zal het geld opgehoest moeten worden, wat niet mee zal vallen (Misschien dat hun Arabische olievriendjes ze kunnen helpen), maar de reputatie van de PA heeft een gevoelige knak geleden nu de officiele regering verbonden is met terrorisme. Dat kan nog andere financiele gevolgen hebben, want het is bij wet in Amerika verboden bij te dragen aan terroristische organisaties en er is gebleken dat die pensioenen voor terroristen en familie voor een groot deel door Amerika betaald zijn. Dit zou nog wel eens een staartje kunnen krijgen.

Maar een ander gevolg is dat de PA politiek gezien gehavend is door de uitspraak. Er kleeft nu bij alles terrorisme aan de PA. Dit wordt versterkt door het feit dat de eenheidsregering met Hamas nog steeds bestaat en Hamas gewoon weer op de terrorismelijst staat en ook duidelijk terrorisme uitvoert en vooral ook propageert. In het verleden heeft de PA gezegd dat ze sinds de Oslo-accoorden geen terrorisme heeft bedreven, ondanks het feit dat er door menigeen vanuit werd gegaan dat Arrafat betrokken was in het geweld van de Tweede Intifada. Nu echter is Abbas zelf schuldig aan terrorisme waarvan hij Israel zo graag wil beschuldigen. Until now, the PA president had no personal risk going to the ICC, as the Gaza war at most, put Israel and Hamas at risk.

De gang van Abbas naar het ICC wordt nu een andere zaak, nu hij zelf van terrorisme is beschuldigd. http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Verdict-against-Palestinian-Authority-could-spell-trouble-for-Abbas-at-ICC-391974  Bovendien kleeft aan het ICC niet de biasstatus tegen Israel zoals bij UNWRA, de Algemene Vergadering van de VN, de VN-Mensenrechten Organisatie. Het ICC wordt als puur professioneel juridisch ervaren zonder dat al die moslimstaten en hun ongebonden vrienden dit hof direct kunnen beinvloeden. Israel kan nu duidelijk maken dat een gang naar het ICC voor Abbas wel eens als een boemerang terug kan komen bij de PA.

De PA zal in hoger beroep gaan, maar deze uitspraak is een opsteker voor Israel.

 

MS

 

 

 





Why would a US ruling on whether the PA was involved in terrorism in 2004, matter in 2015? Because until now, despite Israeli allegations of Yasser Arafat’s involvement in the second intifada violence, the PA has said Hamas performed all the terrorism and that it has been clean since the mid-1990s Oslo Accords.

If it emerges in the verdict that the PA was involved in terrorism from the top down, suddenly the PA is not coming with clean hands, but with hands awash in the war crimes that it accuses Israel of.

If the ICC prosecutor is on the fence, a major decision like this – and maybe more like it following – could push the narrative far enough in Israel’s favor that the prosecutor could be concerned about being viewed as having indirectly assisted terrorists.

Israel or Israel-supporters could even try to use the US decision, though it is a civil damages case, to push the ICC to intervene against the PA, dating back to the second intifada.

Until now, PA President Mahmoud Abbas had no personal risk going to the ICC, as the Gaza war at most, put Israel and Hamas at risk.

Investigating the second intifada could put him and his inner circle at legal risk – producing a situation where the ICC would be reliant on Abbas providing evidence against Israel, which in turn could present equally damaging testimony against him.

Though this is only one verdict and one bad day for the PA, which it may successfully brush off, Israel and its supporters have already made good on the threat that the PA’s use of “lawfare” could boomerang in unpredictable ways.

 

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/191751#.VOxdH150z4Y



Netanyahu: The World Must Keep Punishing Terrorist Supporters

Netanyahu responds to the ruling by a New York court that the PA must pay damages to victims of attack in Israel.

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By Elad Benari

First Publish: 2/24/2015, 12:15 AM

 

Binyamin Netanyahu

Gili Yaari/Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday evening responded to the ruling by a New York court which found the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) liable for their role in encouraging and inciting terror attacks during the Second Intifada.

In his statement, Netanyahu called on the international community to follow the court’s example and continue to punish those who support terrorism.

"The U.S. federal court decision determines the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority for the murderous terrorist attacks of the previous decade. Instead of drawing the requisite lesson, the Palestinian Authority 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 organization,” he said.

“We expect the responsible elements in the international community to continue to punish those who support terrorism just as the U.S. federal court has done and to back the countries that are fighting terrorism. Today as well we remember the families that lost their loved ones; our heart is with them and there is no justice that can console them," concluded Netanyahu.

Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid also responded to the court’s decision, saying, "This is a just and historic decision which sends a clear message - there is no immunity for terrorism and there can be no compromises when facing it. This is a clear warning to the Palestinian Authority - the world will not turn a blind eye to involvement in terror attacks and to the targeting of innocent civilians."

Earlier on Monday, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman hailed the ruling as a "moral victory".

"This decision constitutes above all a moral victory for the state of Israel and for victims of terrorism," Liberman said of the ruling.

It "confirms the opinion of those who know what happened in the early 2000s but which many in the world refused to recognize because of hypocrisy, known vested interests or anti-Semitism," he said.

"Terrorism is an integral part of the very structure of the Palestinian Authority," Liberman charged

 

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.643876

 

U.S. jury finds PLO, PA liable over terror attacks in Israel more than a decade ago

The victims will receive more than $218 million.

By Reuters | Feb. 23, 2015 | 8:04 PM | 2

Courtroom sketch of Mark Rochon, (R) a partner at Miller & Chevalier representing the defendants in Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization, in New York, January 13, 2015. Photo by Reuters

By The Associated Press | Jan. 13, 2015 | 11:45 PM

U.S. victims' case against PLO opens new chaper in how courts address terror

By Tom Hays | Jan. 20, 2015 | 4:05 PM

A New York jury ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority to pay more than $218 million in damages to American victims of six terrorist attacks in Israel.

The verdict Monday in a Manhattan federal court was in favor of 10 American families suing over attacks in the Jerusalem area from 2002 to 2004.

. The $218 million award could be tripled under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act.

“Now the PLO and the P.A. know there is a price for supporting terrorism,” said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in an interview with Reuters after the verdict.

The verdict followed a six-week civil trial that included testimony from survivors of suicide bombings in Jerusalem. The PLO and the Palestinian Authority are expected to appeal.

While the plaintiffs argued that PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat had arranged for attackers and their survivors to be compensated, lawyers for the PLO and Palestinian Authority said the groups had condemned terror attacks and that any payments made to terrorists were done by low-level employees acting independently.

“Money is oxygen for terrorism,” Kent Yalowitz, a lawyer for the families, said in a closing argument, according to the New York Times. Yalowitz added that the U.S. antiterrorism law “hits those who send terrorists where it hurts them most: in the wallet.”

The U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act was also used last September by a Brooklyn jury that found the Arab Bank liable for supporting Hamas terrorism. Damages in that case will be decided in a second trial.

 

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Terror-391923

 

Historic US terror verdict charges Palestinian Authority with over $655m. in damages

"The defendants have already been boasting that they will appeal the decision and we will never collect on the judgment – but we will go to the end of the earth to collect it.”

Courtroom sketch of US terror trial. (photo credit:REUTERS)

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Ending a saga dating back to the end of the Second Intifada in 2004, a US jury on Monday handed down a historic verdict against the Palestinian Authority for involvement in six terror attacks from that time period, charging them with $655.5 million in damages.

Lead trial counsel Kent Yalowitz of Arnold & Porter said that  "The Palestinian Authority and the PLO have been found liable by an American jury for six heinous terrorist attacks that killed and injured hundreds of civilians.”

He continued, “The PA and PLO policies of financial inducements and rewards for terrorism that are at the center of this case unfortunately continue today, more than a decade later.”

Yalowitz concluded, “I am truly privileged to have had the opportunity to represent these amazing families and join them in their quest for justice against those who have devastated their lives forever."

Shurat Hadin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said “This historic verdict against the defendants will not bring back these families' loved ones nor heal the physical and psychological wounds inflicted upon them but it truly is an important measure of justice and closure for them after their long years of  tragic suffering and pain.”

She added, “We started out more than a decade ago with the intent of making the defendants pay for their terrorist crimes against innocent civilians and letting them know that there will eventually be a price to be paid for sending suicide bombers onto our buses and into our cafes.”

"The defendants have already been boasting that they will appeal the decision and we will never collect on the judgment – but we will go to the end of the earth to collect it,” she said.

The wrongful death civil damages trial could have massive diplomatic and financial implications for the PA, as it teeters, according to some dangerously, near collapse and as it tries to rally international support for its push for the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israeli soldiers and officials for alleged war crimes related to the summer Gaza war.   

Closing statements in the case were delivered on Thursday before the US federal New York court and jury.

PA lawyer Mark Rochon rose first, and after presenting a sometimes understated trial persona, stood tall with some dramatic flair to defend his client from a possibly multibillion-dollar judgment and vast negative diplomatic implications.

Rochon, in a soft voice at times sounding weak and quivering, said, “I fear,” that this jury will find his client liable “because of who they are, not what they did or did not do."

The plaintiffs' central points are that a large volume of PA employees, including numerous policemen and commanders, have been arrested and convicted by Israel as having organized, planned and perpetrated suicide bombings and shootings against Americans in Israel, including the six attacks from 2001-2004 in the case during the Second Intifada. In those attacks, 33 were killed.

“So much sadness. So much sadness and death,” Rochon began. “All those souls extinguished.”

But “we’re not here to decide the Second Intifada,” to issue a judgment on that sadness, death, or the occupation, Rochon said, explaining that if the jury just focused on the six incidents at issue in the case, “the PA and the PLO are not liable.”

“Sometimes people who do terrible things work for the government.” But these are “things they did for their own reasons.”

A verdict against the defendants “would only damage the government and the PLO who do not deserve that.”

After his opening emotional appeal, Rochon slowly grew in indignation, doing his best to disconnect the dots that the plaintiffs had drawn together in their case.

Rochon attacked the credibility of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses: "The only people you can bring in are IDF intelligence officials who served during that time?" Rochon encouraged the jury to decide for themselves whether such witnesses were "Objective? Uninterested? Or biased?"

"Who you gonna believe?" he said, adding “the IDF or a report from the USA that explicitly states: There is no conclusive evidence that the senior leadership of the PA or PLO were involved in planning or approving specific acts of violence."

Rochon was referring to a US State Department report known as PLOCCA from the Second Intafada period which covered to what extent the PA was complying with obligations to Israel and the US under various agreements.

Many statements in the periodic reports defended the PA from accusations of involvement in terror, but others did not, and those that did were sometimes hotly debated at the time.

The plaintiffs "want you to infer that from the absence of evidence. And that's not how it works," Rochon said.

Noting the specific case of Abdel Karim Aweis, Rochon showed a document where Aweis said he was hiding information from a PA intelligence officer, something that showed the PA wasn't collaborating with his attack. "This is crazy town, ladies and gentlemen."

As his remarks drew to a close, Rochon's voice grew small and pleading once again. Leaving reporters cupping their hands to their ears to hear what he was saying. "What they did was despicable, selfish," Rochon said. "But it was not the PA."

But Rochon's spirited defense was not enough against the legal and emotional onslaught brought by plaintiffs.

Yalowitz rose to respond and burst forth with righteous indignation, declaring that the PA “didn’t have to pay terrorists if it didn’t want to.”

"This case is about 10 American families who were going about their daily lives," Yalowitz said, as he went on to describe how those families were victims of terror attacks and as family members each stood up in turn in the gallery.

He referred to the Anti-Terrorism Act which was the basis of the civil damages case as created to hit “those who send terrorists where it hurts most - the wallet."

Regarding the burden of proving the PA’s liability which the plaintiffs needed to carry to win, he said, "if the scale tips even a little bit," Yalowitz explained. "I will have carried my burden."

Yalowitz also addressed the PA claim that it and the PLO were separate entities who could not be held liable for each other’s actions.

"If you're a beat cop walking the streets" Yalowitz said, "You fairly represent the NYPD."

"If an NYPD cop" commits a murder in New Jersey and you say "'Good job. And we're going to keep you on payroll while you're in jail' that says something."

"You don't have to be senior to represent the entity."

Yalowitz continued, "If you have a policy that says: If you commit a terrorist act, you keep your job," get a promotion, and get paid while you're in jail, "that says something about who you are and what you believe in."

Regarding whether the PA’s alleged support for the six terror attacks met the legal definition of “material support,” Yalowitz said "the biggest support you can give is money and personnel and these guys gave both."

Shurat Hadin Director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner said, "As both sides have rested and the case is handed over to the jury, the terror victim families are optimistic that the defendants will be found guilty of the violent attacks that they perpetrated during the Second Intifada and which have devastated their lives.”

Darshan-Leitner added, “While the plaintiffs presented numerous expert witnesses and a myriad of documentary evidence, the PLO and Palestinian Authority barely made an effort to rebut the allegations against them.”

 

http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/PA-calls-guilty-terror-ruling-a-tragic-disservice-to-the-millions-of-Palestinians-391951

 

PA calls guilty terror ruling a 'tragic disservice to the millions of Palestinians'

 

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Historic US terror verdict charges Palestinian Author...

 

Palestinian official says charges are baseless and the New York Court ignored the legal precedent set by other US courts.

A Palestinian boy waves a flag in the West Bank. (photo credit:REUTERS)

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The PLO and the Palestinian Authority expressed “deep disappointment” over the decision by the jury in the case of “Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization et al.”

Mahmoud Khalifa, deputy Palestinian minister of information, said that the charges made against the PLO and PA are “baseless.”

He said that the New York Court ignored the legal precedent set time and again by other US courts – including a ruling last week by a Federal Judge in Washington DC, that established that US localities are not the proper jurisdiction for such a hearing.

“We will appeal this decision and we are confident that we will prevail,” Khalifa said in a first response to the verdict. “We have faith in the US legal system and are certain about our common sense belief and our strong legal standing.”

He claimed that the case is “just the latest attempt by hardline anti-peace factions in Israel to use and abuse the US legal system to advance their narrow political and ideological agenda: to block the two-state solution, advance the illegal settlements in our land, continue to attack and divert the PLO and PA’s limited resources from needed services and programs for our people.”

In his statement, Khalifa said that the decision is a “tragic disservice to the millions of Palestinians who have invested in the democratic process and the rule of law in order to seek justice and redress their grievances, and to the international community which has invested so much in financial aid and political capital in a two-state solution in which the PLO and PA are paramount.”

The Palestinian official said that the Palestinians will continue to combat extremism and violence and maintain a strong commitment to nonviolent resistance and international, legal political and moral redress. “We stand ready to be a partner in peace and an unyielding advocate for the rights of our people,” he added.

 

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4630013,00.html

 

US jury awards Israel attack victims over $218m in PLO trial

More than a decade after Sokolow family wounded in Jerusalem bombing, Palestinian Authority found liable for aiding terrorists

Ynetnews

Latest Update: 

02.23.15, 20:50 / Israel News

A US jury on Monday ordered the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority to pay more than $218 million for providing material support to terrorists, a victory for Americans suing over attacks in the Jerusalem area more than a decade ago.

 

 

The verdict in the politically sensitive trial in Manhattan federal court added a new dimension to the long-running Middle East conflict, as American victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict sought to use US courts to seek damages.

 


Court sketches from PLO trial in NY (Photo: Jane Rosenberg)

 

"Now the PLO and the PA know there is a price for supporting terrorism," said Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, in an interview after the verdict.

 

Jurors found in favor of 10 American families suing over six attacks attributed to the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas. The award could be tripled under the US Anti-Terrorism Act.

 

Victims and their families had requested more than $350 million, or over $1 billion after tripling, over shootings and bombings from 2002 to 2004 that killed 33 people and injured over 450.

 

In closing arguments, plaintiff attorney Kent Yalowitz had urged the Manhattan jury to order the PLO and Palestinian Authority to pay $350 million for providing material support to terrorists involved in six bombings and shootings from 2002 to 2004.

 

No amount could make up for the human toll, he said. "But if the only thing you can give them is money, then money has to stand in as compensation for the unspeakable loss," he added.

 

Defense attorney Mark Rochon had argued there was no proof Palestinian authorities sanctioned the attacks as alleged in a 2004 lawsuit brought by 10 American families, even though members of their security forces were convicted in Israeli courts on charges they were involved.

 

"What they did, they did for their own reasons ... not the Palestinian Authority's," he said in federal court in Manhattan.

 

New York and the Hague

US trial over attacks could hurt Palestinian war crimes push / Associated Press

Palestinian officials nervously watch landmark terrorism trial in the US, brought by victims of Palestinian suicide bombings and shootings aimed at Israeli civilians.

Full Story

The PLO and Palestinian Authority are expected to appeal, and it is unclear whether victims would be able to collect if the award were upheld.

 

Throughout the trial, US District Judge George Daniels in Manhattan largely denied bids by the Palestinian Authority and the PLO to dismiss the long-running lawsuit. At a court hearing in December, Daniels also reaffirmed his decision in 2008 finding that his court had jurisdiction over claims against the Palestinian Authority and PLO despite changes in law at the appellate level.

  

The Sokolow family, the lead plaintiff in the trial, testified three weeks ago; a January 2002 bombing injured Jamie Sokolow, her sister Lauren, her mother Rena and her father Mark, all of whom testified.

 

Top Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi took the witness stand two weeks ago.

 

Ashrawi, a member of the PLO's executive committee, said she and other leaders, including the late Yasser Arafat, worked with US and Israeli officials to combat terrorism during those years.

 


Palestinian President Abbas (Photo: AFP)

 

"It didn't serve the cause of the Palestinian Authority or the PLO, nor the cause of freedom," she said of the attacks. Her testimony, which lasted about two hours, followed that of Majid Faraj, the authority's head of intelligence.

 

Lawyers for the plaintiffs have accused the Palestinians of making payments to militants convicted of terrorism as a means of supporting their actions.

 

Faraj told the jurors the payments were intended to help the convicted men's families and remove economic reasons for them to engage in further attacks.

 

 

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Who-will-win-first-US-terrorist-trial-against-the-Palestinian-Authority-391648

 

 

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