Is the US try­ing to block PA ter­ror vic­tim com­pen­sa­tion?

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By YONAH JEREMY BOB

If the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is viewed as one of the most pro-Is­rael ad­min­is­tra­tions ever, why would it re­port­edly bend over back­ward to block a new law that would ad­vance com­pen­sat­ing the fam­i­lies of Amer­i­can vic­tims of Pales­tinian ter­ror­ism from the Sec­ond In­tifada?

Last week, Matt Lee of Talk­ing Points Memo re­ported that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, led by US Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, is work­ing hard to re­peal, de­lay or amend an Oc­to­ber law on the is­sue.

Any change or de­lay of the law would need to be done some­time around the next week to sneak it in be­fore the law goes into ef­fect and be­fore Congress changes over.

If the leg­is­la­tion is not blocked by then, it would, among other im­pacts, re­store the Sokolow case – in which a US fed­eral court ruled that the PA must pay hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to the fam­i­lies of the Amer­i­can vic­tims of Pales­tinian Author­ity-aided ter­ror­ism dur­ing the Sec­ond In­tifada.

The Fe­bru­ary 2015 rul­ing was later over­turned by higher US courts and the newly passed law was an at­tempt to cir­cum­vent the higher court rul­ings be­fore a dead­line passed for such a move.

But Sokolow lawyer Kent Yalowitz of Arnold & Porter said that the US State Depart­ment is try­ing to undo the pos­i­tive im­pact of the law for the fam­i­lies of vic­tims of the Sokolow case un­der a threat by the Pales­tinian Author­ity.

The PA has threat­ened that it will cease se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion with Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces if the US does not re­peal, de­lay or amend the law and that it does not have suf­fi­cient funds to pay the vic­tims’ fam­i­lies.

Se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion be­tween PA and Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces is con­sid­ered a linch­pin of Is­raeli na­tional se­cu­rity in han­dling threats from Ha­mas in the West Bank.

Yet, Yalowitz said, PA Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas “makes that threat all the time. Google ‘Pales­tinian Author­ity se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion threat.’”

Yalowitz ex­plained that a va­ri­ety of di­rect and in­di­rect sources in Congress and the State Depart­ment are warn­ing that the rul­ing would “bank­rupt the PLO,” and that the real push for de­lay­ing the law may be from Se­nior Ad­vi­sor Jared Kush­ner’s de­sire to smooth things over with the PA lead­ing up to the roll­out of his peace plan.

The big ques­tion in all of this is whether the law would ac­tu­ally bank­rupt the PA or whether it is an idle threat.

On the one hand, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has al­ready cut dozens of mil­lions in aid to the PA this past year, which could mean that the PA re­ally is in worse shape than in the past.

On the other hand, the PA is still man­ag­ing to pay funds to the fam­i­lies of some­one who was killed or im­pris­oned by Is­rael for ter­ror­ism.

This is one tac­tic the PA uses to try to en­dear it­self to parts of the Pales­tinian pub­lic that views ter­ror­ists as he­roes.

Crit­ics add that the PA will not end co­op­er­a­tion with Is­rael’s se­cu­rity forces be­cause those forces also help the PA stay in power against plots by Ha­mas.

Shu­rat Hadin di­rec­tor and the Sokolow plain­tiff’s lawyer Nit­sana Dar­shan-Leit­ner, who brought in Yalowitz, said: “No one dis­putes that the blood of th­ese Amer­i­can vic­tims is on the hands of the Pales­tinian Author­ity. After a twom­onth-long trial, a New York jury found the PA li­able for 25 charges of ter­ror­ism, in­clud­ing the mur­der of stu­dents in the He­brew Univer­sity Cafe­te­ria bomb­ing.”

“Now once again, for the sec­ond time, the State Depart­ment is throw­ing th­ese US fam­i­lies un­der the bus… The claim that the PA does not have the funds to pay the court award is a bla­tant and demon­stra­ble lie,” she said. “Every sin­gle month the fam­i­lies of the sui­cide bombers and im­pris­oned ter­ror­ists who mur­dered and maimed the plain­tiffs in this case re­ceive their stipends from the PA and it amounts to many, many mil­lions of dol­lars that should be paid to the vic­tims.”

“When will the State Depart­ment ac­tu­ally do some­thing to act on be­half of th­ese Amer­i­can fam­i­lies?” she asked.

To date, the US State Depart­ment has merely said it is fol­low­ing the is­sue.

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