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10 Years After Achille Lauro, PLO Reaches Pact with Victims

January 22, 1996
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For Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer, no sum of money, no act of contrition can erase the pain resulting from the murder of their father.

But there is perhaps a sense of closure in the tentative settlement they have reached in their lawsuit against the Palestine Liberation Organization.

More than 10 years ago, terrorists belonging to an extremist PLO faction shot Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound American Jew who was aboard the hijacked Achille Lauro cruise ship and threw him overboard.

The PLO has now reached an agreement in principle with the Klinghoffer daughters “to create an institution designed for peace studies, including the prevention of terrorism,” according to a Jan. 9 letter signed by lawyers for both sides.

It said the institute would “memorialize the tragic death of Leon Klinghoffer as well as other victims of violence.”

The agreement, reached just days before PLO leader Yasser Arafat was elected to head the newly created Palestinian Council, calls on the PLO to provide initial funding for a peace institute dedicated to promoting programs to resolve conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere.

If the agreement is finalized, further litigation against the PLO by the Klinghoffers and the travel agency that booked the cruise “will not be necessary,” the letter to U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton stated.

The judge has set a mid-February deadline for reaching a final agreement, a spokeswoman for the Klinghoffers said.

The Klinghoffers and their spokeswoman declined to comment on the preliminary agreement until it is finalized.

Since their father’s death, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer have dedicated themselves to fighting the scourge of terrorism.

Together with their late mother, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer established the Klinghoffer Memorial Foundation of the Anti-Defamation League in 1985 – a foundation dedicated to combating the threat of terrorism through educational, legal and legislative means.

“Through their selfless and courageous efforts, Lisa and Ilsa Klinghoffer transformed terrorism and its victims from the abstract and became – and remain – the personification of the threat of terrorism,” Abraham Foxman, national director of Anti-Defamation League, said at the Washington ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of Leon Klinghoffer’s death.

“We cannot allow terrorists to gain a stronger foothold in this country,” Ilsa Klinghoffer said at the ceremony, invoking the recent bombings of the federal building in Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center in New York.

“We do not want other Americans to feel the pain of watching their parents being held hostage, tortured and murdered.”

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