Middle East Monitor / April 28, 2020
A court in Israel has ruled that the Palestinian Authority must pay almost $150 million in damages to the families of people killed in “terror attacks”.
The Jerusalem District Court made the order on Friday following a lawsuit by the legal advocacy group Shurat HaDin, which had demanded more than $2 billion in damages.
The notorious group, which exists to “protect” the occupation state and has admitted ties to Israeli spy agency Mossad, made the application on behalf of the families of Israelis killed during the second Palestinian intifada between 2000 and 2005.
During the uprising, around 1,000 Israelis lost their lives while more than 3,000 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.
“We continue to fight even 20 years later and we will not rest until we achieve justice for terror victims,” claimed Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, the head of Shurat HaDin.
The Israeli authorities have been given until next month by the court to appeal for the ruling to be annulled. The government could consider this move as such a massive payment would destabilise the PA, which is already struggling financially.
The court’s decision that reparations should be confiscated from tax revenues collected by Israel on behalf of the PA was condemned by Hussein Al-Sheikh, the Palestinian official who leads on communications between the PA and Israel. “This is piracy and the theft of Palestinian money,” he claimed.
A court ruling in July last year alleged that the PA and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) were responsible for the attacks in question.
At the time, the Jerusalem District Court Judge Moshe Drori ruled that both the PA and PLO were non-state bodies and so unable to claim immunity from damages claims.
The complex tax collection system was formed under peace deals between the PA and Israel. Taxes such as customs duties are collected on behalf of the PA before being transferred in part to the Ramallah-based government on a monthly basis.
The tax revenue from the system covers a significant amount of the PA’s budget, meaning that any deductions would further hit the authority badly.
Israel has withheld payments in the past as a means of punishing the PA for certain actions or policies. It did so in “retaliation” for the PA joining the International Criminal Court in 2015, for example.