The lead attorney for 10 American families who secured $655 million in civil damages against the Palestinian Authority (PA) for past terror support expressed disappointment Monday with a judge's bond order.
Kent Yalowitz, whose clients either lost loved ones or were injured in terror attacks either carried out or aided by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the PA, had asked for $30 million monthly payments to serve as bond while a jury's February civil verdict is appealed.
During a hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels ordered the PA to deposit $10 million into an account within the next month. After that, the PA must deposit an additional $1 million per month. The money serves as a bond in the event the judgment is upheld after the PA's appeal is resolved.
The installments are so insignificant compared to the PA's resources that Yalowitz likened the amount to a "rounding error."
But the judge acknowledged giving "serious consideration" to a statement submitted earlier this month by a deputy secretary of state urging Daniels to consider the PA's precarious financial state in imposing a bond order. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the prospect that the PA could collapse under the weight of the payments, which "would undermine several decades of U.S. foreign policy and add a new destabilizing factor to the region, compromising national security.'
The attacks took place between 2001 and 2004. The victims sued under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which includes provisions which tripled the jury's $218.5 million damage award.
The PA's finances are not nearly so fragile, Yalowitz's team argued. A payment plan supporting jailed terrorists and the families of PLO members killed during attacks remains in effect. That payment system was among the items jurors learned about during the trial, along with internal PA and PLO records with information about terror cells and their activities.
Other records included handwritten notes from longtime PLO and PA leader Yasser Arafat approving those payments.
The PA initially argued against any bond requirement pending appeals.