The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization are now being held accountable to a group of terrorism victims as a result of a lawsuit that was decided today. More than $600 million in damages was awarded in Sokolow v. PLO, (04-cv-003970) which was tried in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, in Manhattan.
The outcome marks the first time that the Palestinian Authority has been made liable for acts of terror. During the six week trial, internal PA documents that detailed payments to terrorists held in Israeli prisons, and to the families of terrorists killed while carrying out attacks were shown to jurors.
The PLO's defense attorney Mark Rochon kept claiming that the terrorists acted on their own, and that payments to the families were meant to provide support for those suddenly left without the breadwinner’s income and not as a reward.
“Sometimes people who do terrible things work for the government,” Rochon said, but “things they did for their own reasons.” The jury did not find that to be the case.
As Edwin Black's book Financing the Flames demonstrated, the Palestinians had a policy of encouraging acts of terror against Jews and Israel, and would award more money for bigger acts and more 'kills'. This evidence was critical to the outcome of the trial.
Shurat HaDin (The Israel LAW Center), led by Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, organized with Kent Yalowitz of Arnold & Porter, tried this case.
Juda Engelmayer is a Senior Vice President at 5W Public Relations.