Terrorism judgment against P.A. vacated

A U.S. federal judge vacated a $174 million judgment against the Palestinian Authority.

Relatives of Aharon Ellis, killed in a 2002 terrorist attack in Israel, won a $174 million judgment in 2006 after the Palestinian Authority refused to defend itself on charges that its officials had enabled terrorism, claiming the immunity of sovereign states.

The court had ruled at the time that the Palestinian Authority was not a state and as such did not have immunity from lawsuits.

The Palestinian Authority is now ready to mount a vigorous defense, and U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero accepted its request for a retrial, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Nonetheless, Marrero said his decision to vacate the 2006 judgment would stand only if the Palestinian Authority put up a $193 million bond: the $174 million plus interest. Marrero had sought the Bush administration’s opinion on P.A. claims that such lawsuits could cripple it at a time that it is said to be confronting extremists.

In a letter last month, the Bush administration declined to intervene, agreeing with claims from both sides – that victims of terrorism deserve redress, and that such lawsuits would harm the political viability of the Palestinian Authority.

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