PLO (Paid Assassins) in DC says they will have to close if forced to pay terror victims - lawyer Ramsey Clark says mission vital for national security
House Legislation just approved called for closing of PLO Mission
MIM: The old story of the kid who kills their parents and begs the court to have mercy because they are an orphan.
The PLO wont have to worry about closing for lack of funds, yesterday the House approved a bill which would close the PLO Mission and limit freedom of movement for members of PLO delegations.
Complete text of the bill:
The headline says it all:
Palestinian groups seek relief from court order in terrorism case
By Toni Locy, Associated Press Writer | May 17, 2006
WASHINGTON --The Palestinian Authority is asking a federal judge to reconsider an order to pay nearly $200,000 to the estate of a couple killed in Israel in a terrorist attack, saying the PLO Mission here will have to close if the money is turned over.
The dispute is part of a long-running lawsuit filed by relatives of Yaron and Efrat Ungar, who died in a June 1996 attack that their lawyer says was carried out by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
And the case shows no sign of ending. Earlier this week, a lawyer for the Ungar family signaled that he wants to seize $70 million that several Middle Eastern countries have contributed to help keep the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority financially afloat.
As a result, the Ungar family's efforts to collect damages is playing into a larger international response to Hamas' takeover of the Palestinian Authority earlier this year.
Western countries, led by the United States, cut off aid to the new Palestinian government because Hamas is considered a terrorist organization. Leaders of the new government have complained they cannot pay their workers and have blamed the United States for the financial difficulties.
Nabil Abuznaid, deputy chief of the PLO Mission, said Wednesday that lawsuits against the Palestinian groups are becoming more common and causing significant financial strain.
Abuznaid said the $200,000 at issue covers day-to-day operations of the office, including workers' salaries. "We cannot survive these conditions," he said. "There is no money. I don't know what we should do."
The Ungar relatives filed suit in Rhode Island in 2000 under the Antiterrorism Act. Four years later, a federal judge there ordered the groups to pay the relatives $116 million.
Since then, lawyers for the Ungar relatives and the Palestinian groups have been fighting in courts in Rhode Island, Washington and New York over how and whether the judgment would ever be paid.
Last year, as the battles in court dragged on, the Rhode Island judge froze the groups' assets.
Attorney David J. Strachman, who represents the Ungar relatives, asked U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler to order the surrender of nearly $200,000 that the PLO Mission had in a bank account to put toward the outstanding $116 million judgment.
Last week, Kessler agreed, saying the Palestinian groups had presented "no facts" to support their contention that turning over the money would result in the closure of the PLO Mission here.
Earlier this week, Strachman also asked Kessler to force the League of Arab States to turn over an additional $70 million to the Ungar relatives. In a court filing, Strachman said several Middle Eastern countries came up with the money recently to help the Palestinian Authority stay afloat in spite of the cutoff in Western aid.
In April, the U.S. Treasury Department banned transactions with the Palestinian Authority because of the Hamas controversy, and the league cannot find a bank willing to assist in the transfer of the funds to the Palestinian groups, Strachman said.
In seeking reconsideration of Kessler's order on the $200,000, lawyers for the Palestinian groups asked for time to appeal and to allow the U.S. State Department to weigh in.
Lawyers Ramsey Clark and Lawrence W. Schilling said the mission's continued operation benefits U.S. national security because the office provides "an essential and unique communication link" between the Palestinians and the Bush administration.
A spokeswoman for the State Department did not respond to a call seeking comment.