WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Palestinian Authority settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed amount with the widow of an American killed in Israel in 2002.
Papers were filed last month requesting the suit be dropped since the conditions of the settlement written last October had been met, Politico reported this week.
The suit was brought by Leslye Knox, whose husband, Aharon Ellis, was gunned down at a bat mitzvah party in Hadera. The Al Aksa Brigades, linked to the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah Party, claimed responsibility for the act, allegedly carried out by a PA security officer.
The payment is a reversal of the Palestinian Authority’s previous years of refusal to meet lawsuits filed by victims’ families.
During the Bush administration, the PA sought intervention from the executive branch, claiming that suits such as the Knox case eventually would bankrupt the moderate leadership as it tries to exert itself over Hamas.
Former U.S. State Department legal adviser John Bellinger told Politico that PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad "has wanted to settle these cases for a long time because plaintiffs’ efforts to attach Palestinian assets to satisfy the judgments threaten the financial stability of the Palestinian government.”
Both sides took steps to keep the settlement amount secret, though court papers mention “installment payments.”
Stephen Flatow, whose daughter Alisa’s murder led to the Flatow Amendment passed by Congress in 1996 that clarified the right to sue over acts of foreign terrorism, was displeased by the secrecy.
“People thinking of mounting a terror attack don’t know if they have a major payment to be concerned about," Flatow told Politico. "It kind of cheapens the action.”