PLO's victims victimized again

Opinion: State Department's moves make it more difficult for victims of Palestinian Authority and PLO terrorism to win compensation.

Dr. Joseph Frager ,

Dr. Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager
Arutz Sheva

Although President Trump is one of Israel’s greatest friends and his Secretary of State Pompeo not only a vast improvement over his predecessor Rex Tillerson but also a true friend, the State Department continues to cause Israel trouble.

While Secretary of State Pompeo was in Warsaw, the State Department acted behind his back and victimized the American victims of PLO Terror once again.

This has been an ongoing saga ( I refer the reader to my article with a similar title of 5/9/16 to get more background).

In short, in February 2015, American cctims of PLO terror in Israel between 2001 and 2004 were awarded 218.5 million dollars, which was tripled to 655 million dollars as part of the Anti-Terrorism Act established after the cold-blooded and brutal murder of Leon Klinghoffer.

The second US Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the verdict against the PA in 2016. All three judges who ruled against the verdict were either appointed by Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.

In April of 2018, the Justice Department said there was nothing in the appeals court ruling to “warrant this court’s (referring to the Supreme Court) intervention at this time.”

At the time Theodore Olson, one of the lawyers for the victims wrote, “The government is not being square with the court.” He went on to say that if the appeals court decision is left in place it would close the courthouse door to U.S. victims of “many acts of terrorism overseas in which terrorists maim and kill indiscriminately, without regard to nationality”.

After a lot of hard work by Ambassador David Friedman, Secretary of State Pompeo, and Senator Grassley a balanced approach that most in Congress had signed off on was achieved and it appeared that the verdict was restored. It is called the “Grassley Compromise”. The victims of PLO terror and their lawyer Kent A. Yalowitz fully support the compromise.

The Grassley Compromise consists of six points as follows:

1) Strikes security assistance from the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA)

2) Protects existing contractual obligations and the work of NGO’s

3) Exempts certain payments and assistance, identified in the Taylor Force Act like for certain wastewater projects and vaccinations.

4) Clarifies the defendant-identifying language of the ATCA-for purposes of potential consent to jurisdiction based on physical presence in the United States. (Lawyers for the victims claim that the PA/PLO position at the UN constitutes presence in the United States and this was indeed upheld a few months ago).

5) Establishes a process by which the U.S State Department will help facilitate the resolution and settlement of Anti-Terrorism Act claims of U.S. victims against the PA or the PLO and

6) Provides a sense of Congress that the U.S. Government should take all practicable steps to facilitate the resolution and settlement of claims of U.S. victims against the PA or the PLO, and that all such claims should be resolved in a manner that provides just compensation to U.S victims.

This past week the State Department pushed for a provision that would remove the existence of the PA/PLO’s position at the United Nations from the scope of the law. This would essentially kill the terror victim cases since it would take the PA/PLO out of the jurisdiction of the United States and its courts.

It is up to the President, who I know supports the victims of PA/PLO Terror, and his Secretary of State who likewise supports the victims to tell the State Department who is the Boss here and who is running the show. This is a serious and critical matter.

The State Department issued a statement in response to Dr. Frager's column.

The State Department said that the administration is "deeply concerned" about American victims of terror, and backs their right to seek compensation.

"At the request of the Palestinian Authority, we have wound down certain projects and programs funded with assistance under the authorities specified in ATCA in the West Bank and Gaza," a State Department official said.

"The Administration is deeply concerned about U.S. victims of terrorism and strongly supports their rights to seek just compensation for their injuries."