Verdict against Palestinian Authority could spell trouble for Abbas at ICC

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attends a ceremony in Ramallah. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Why would a US ruling on whether the PA was involved in terrorism in 2004, matter in 2015? Because until now, despite Israeli allegations of Yasser Arafat’s involvement in the second intifada violence, the PA has said Hamas performed all the terrorism and that it has been clean since the mid-1990s Oslo Accords.

From JPost:

One cannot underestimate the impact of yesterday’s $655.5 million US terrorism trial verdict against the Palestinian Authority on its hopes to convince the International Criminal Court prosecutor to indict Israeli soldiers and leaders for alleged war crimes in last summer’s Gaza war.

Whether the ICC intervenes is viewed as an open question, and the overall diplomatic and legal situation could have a big impact.

On one hand the ICC is not (yet) viewed as unabashedly biased against Israel like many UN organizations, such as the UN Human Rights Council, UNRWA and the UN General Assembly.

It is viewed as far more legal-professional in its approach and less automatically controllable by the nonaligned movement of Muslim states and other third-world countries, who regularly vote against Israel.

Many do not realize that the ICC prosecutor’s recent decision to recognize “Palestine” as a state was and is a long way from actually opening a full criminal investigation, let alone indicting Israelis.

But while it may not be political at its core, it is most certainly not a completely apolitical organization.

Also, at only 12-years-old and standing on shaky ground after being ignored by Sudan, Libya and Kenya over war crimes allegations against them, it is highly concerned about the specter of being written off as irrelevant – a charge Israel and many Western allies would make if it really ends up going after Israeli officials.

On the other hand, it faces accusations that it is Africa-centric, since all of its full cases so far have been against African countries, and intervening in Israel-Palestine could help defend against those allegations.

In the midst of all of this will be the debate over the big-picture narrative.

Is investigating Israel-Palestine about defending Palestinian human rights from Israeli impunity, or is it about – intentionally or not – giving cover to Hamas terrorists for committing war crimes and constraining Israel from defending its civilian population.

Why would a US ruling on whether the PA was involved in terrorism in 2004, matter in 2015? Because until now, despite Israeli allegations of Yasser Arafat’s involvement in the second intifada violence, the PA has said Hamas performed all the terrorism and that it has been clean since the mid-1990s Oslo Accords.

If it emerges in the verdict that the PA was involved in terrorism from the top down, suddenly the PA is not coming with clean hands, but with hands awash in the war crimes that it accuses Israel of.

If the ICC prosecutor is on the fence, a major decision like this – and maybe more like it following – could push the narrative far enough in Israel’s favor that the prosecutor could be concerned about being viewed as having indirectly assisted terrorists.

Israel or Israel-supporters could even try to use the US decision, though it is a civil damages case, to push the ICC to intervene against the PA, dating back to the second intifada.

Until now, PA President Mahmoud Abbas had no personal risk going to the ICC, as the Gaza war at most, put Israel and Hamas at risk.

Investigating the second intifada could put him and his inner circle at legal risk – producing a situation where the ICC would be reliant on Abbas providing evidence against Israel, which in turn could present equally damaging testimony against him.

Though this is only one verdict and one bad day for the PA, which it may successfully brush off, Israel and its supporters have already made good on the threat that the PA’s use of “lawfare” could boomerang in unpredictable ways.

WE WON!

WE WON!!!! Both the PA and PLO were just found liable by a unanimous New York jury for all six terror attacks in the Sokolow v. PA case, and under every theory of liability.

The PA and PLO were found to have knowingly provided the terrorist perpetrators with material support and resources.

Additionally, those terrorist perpetrators who were PA employees were found to have been working within the course and scope of their employment.

The jury awarded the plaintiffs, who are all United States citizens, $218.5 million dollars, which will be tripled under the Anti-terrorism act!

Amazing victory for these deserving victims and against evil!

Jury Verdict in Sokolow likely to be delivered tomorrow

Jury deliberations are underway today in a civil lawsuit brought by American victims of Gavel with Watch Justice TimePalestinian terrorist attacks during the second Intifada. We expect the jury to deliver their verdict tomorrow.

From the IPT blog:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) could face $1 billion in damages to the victims’ families and survivors of the attacks if jurors find that it, along with the Palestine Liberation Organization and its branches, encouraged its people to carry out attacks on Israeli civilians. The attacks took place between 2001-04 and include shooting attacks on public streets and bombings targeting buses and a Hebrew University cafeteria.

During six weeks of testimony, jurors saw internal PA documents which detailed payments to terrorists being held in Israeli prisons, and to families of terrorists killed carrying out attacks. In closing arguments Thursday, defense attorney Mark Rochon reiterated the PA’s claim that the terrorists acted on their own. Payments to the families were meant to provide support for those suddenly left without the breadwinner’s income.

For those in prison, the payments increased based upon the length of sentence. That support still flows today.

Kent Yalowitz, who represents the American victims, argued that the PA’s documents show that the violence was sanctioned at the highest levels.

“Where are the documents punishing employees for killing people? We don’t have anything like that in this case,” Yalowitz said.

What they do have are documents detailing the payments to the terrorists and their families containing hand-written notes of approval by longtime PLO Chairman and then PA President Yasser Arafat. In addition, a 2002 report about West Bank operations sent to the PA’s General Intelligence Service chief praised one squad for its “high quality successful attacks.”

The squad’s “men are very close to us (i.e. to the General Intelligence) and maintain with us continuous coordination and contacts,” the report said. Some of the attacks at issue were carried out by Fatah, the PLO’s armed wing, or the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Records show those groups ultimately were part of the same hierarchy controlled by Arafat until his death in 2004.

The lawsuit, Sokolow v. PLO, was brought under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The plaintiffs asked for a judgment of $350 million, but that could be tripled under the law’s provisions because terrorist acts were at issue.

The prospect of such a huge judgment isn’t the Palestinian Authority’s only worry. A judgment against the PA “threatens to undermine Palestinian efforts to rally international support for a brewing battle at the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” according to an Associated Press report.

It cited multiple PA officials who acknowledged anxiety over the jury’s deliberations.

Pray for justice for the terror victims. Pray for a strong message to those who support terror and pay terrorists.