Palestinian Authority says not to blame for attacks

Palintiff lawyer Kent Yalowitz (R) makes his opening statement in this court sketch during Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. (File photo: Reuters)

Lawyers for the Palestinian Authority said Thursday it should not be held responsible for “crazy and terrible” attacks committed in Israel, as it fights a lawsuit seeking billions of dollars for victims.

U.S. victims and their relatives have filed suit in federal court in New York against the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

The six attacks took place between 2001 and 2004, killing 33 people and injuring more than 390 others, including members of the 11 plaintiff families.

“It is not the right thing to hold the government liable for some people doing crazy and terrible things,” defense attorney Mark Rochon said in his closing argument.

“There is no conclusive evidence that the senior leadership of the PA or PLO were involved in planning or approving specific acts of violence.”

The attackers killed the victims “for their own reasons,” he added, complaining about the plaintiffs’ “exaggerated testimonies to make the Palestinian Authority look bad,” based in part on Israeli intelligence.

The plaintiffs are pressing for the PA and the PLO to be held accountable for supporting the attacks carried out by members of the Islamist movement Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, some of whom were also on the entities' payroll.

But the Palestinians already faces serious financial difficulties because some of its revenues are frozen by Israel.

The trial in lower Manhattan presided by U.S. District Judge George Daniels takes place in the context of the PA’s accession to the International Criminal Court, from where it could file action against Israel for alleged war crimes starting April 1.

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