US Supreme Court Requests U.S. View on Terrorism-Related Judgments Against Iran

From the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court on Monday asked the federal government to weigh in on judgments awarding nearly $2 billion in frozen Iranian banking assets to terrorism victims.

The request, made in a brief court order, puts off for now legal efforts to compel payments to more than 1,300 American victims or surviving family members who won civil judgments over several years that held Iran liable for sponsoring terrorist attacks.

The court is considering an appeal by Bank Markazi, Iran’s central bank, which held an interest in the frozen funds. The bank has challenged lower U.S. court rulings that allowed the money to be turned over.

The attacks included the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

The court judgments are to compensate victims of terrorist attacks Iran’s government sponsored in the past, and are separate from sanctions intended to change Tehran’s future behavior. The high court’s request comes as Iran and six world powers reached a nuclear-framework agreement to deter Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

The Iranian bank argued in its petition to the Supreme Court that Congress acted improperly by passing legislation in 2012 making changes in the law specifically to allow the victims to seize the money. The bank argued lawmakers violated the separation of powers by legislating the outcome of a court case.

The victims urged the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, saying past high court precedent made clear that Congress could fundamentally change the governing law that is applicable to a pending case.

The bank said in its petition that the funds were part of its foreign-currency reserves. The victims said they learned in 2008 the money was in a Citibank account. According to court documents, the Citi account was maintained by a Luxembourg financial intermediary that did business with an Italian bank that in turn did business with Iran’s central bank.

The money is currently being supervised by a court-appointed trustee.

The U.S. Solicitor General will file a brief in the case in the coming months and then the Supreme Court will decide whether to take up the case.

Report: Switzerland Will Pay Salaries to Hamas Operatives in Gaza

From the Algemeiner:

Switzerland has put together a plan to reconstruct the Gaza Strip which includes paying the salaries of Hamas operatives, according to Palestinian officials interviewed by Israel’s NRG website. The plan would also reestablish the status of the Hamas terrorist organization as the only authority in the Gaza Strip.Qatar Mashaal

In recent months, according to the report, Hamas has been faced with the danger of collapsing in Gaza, and turned to Swiss officials for help. Its relations with Egypt are at their worst ever, and funds intended to rehabilitate the coastal enclave after Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer have run out. Thousands of Hamas officials have not received their salaries for months, leading to weakening of Hamas’ legitimacy in Gaza, and raising the specter of protests against Hamas’ rule.

The Palestinian sources told NRG that the Swiss jumped into the fray and promised to pay the salaries of thousands of Hamas officials.

The issue of salary payments for Gaza based government employees has been the source of tensions between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas for some time.

The terms of the new Swiss program also reportedly include a resolution to this long-standing crisis between Hamas and the PA. Just last Sunday, a Swiss delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip with the goal of reconciling the parties.

Switzerland’s relations with Hamas have been warming for a number of years. In 2009, the Swiss government initiated an Israeli-Palestinian conference, which was attended by former Israeli parliamentarian Yossi Beilin and members of Hamas, in order to discuss the possibility of renewing the peace process. That same year, Switzerland hosted a Hamas delegation lead by co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar on its own territory. Micheline Calmy-Rey, the Swiss Foreign Minister at the time, explained her country’s decision, saying “Hamas is an important player in the Middle East conflict, and cannot be ignored.”

Diplomatic sources have noted that Switzerland’s policy towards Hamas is very forgiving, unlike the much sterner policy of EU-member States which consider it a terrorist organization and are forbidden from maintaining contacts with Hamas.

Calls for sacking Australian professor Jake Lynch over anti-Semitic actions

From the Australian:

924092-33ed60a8-cae3-11e4-bf8c-949d9dd98cd7SYDNEY University academic Jake Lynch is under renewed pressure over his support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, with calls for his sacking following a BDS protest last week.

University vice-chancellor Michael Spence has launched an investigation into a fracas that broke out on Wednesday when students stormed a public meeting on campus and disrupted an address by former British army colonel Richard Kemp. When security guards tried to remove the protesters, Professor Lynch criticised the guards; he says he was then attacked by a elderly woman.

While Professor Lynch has written a letter to Dr Spence asking him to discipline the security guards, Mr Kemp wrote to the vice-chancellor claiming that Professor Lynch and another pro-BDS academic “were both apparently leading and encouraging the protesters”.

“At one point I observed ­Associate Professor Lynch waving money in the face of a Jewish student, a clearly aggressive and insulting act that seemed to invoke the stereotype of the ‘greedy Jew’,” Mr Kemp wrote.

The Australasian Union of Jewish Students has called on Dr Spence to sack Professor Lynch.

“Waving money in the face of Jewish people screams of the classical anti-Semitic falsehood that Jews are obsessed with money,” AUJS national chairman Dean Sherr said.

Professor Lynch, who is the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, said he held up the bank notes to warn a woman who he said kicked him in the groin that he would sue her if she didn’t desist. He denied the action was anti-Semitic.

He said he had shown ­“almost heroic restraint” against the woman, while the security guards had, he said, shown no ­interest in curbing her actions.