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US judge orders Palestinian deposits over attacks

Aug. 25, 2015 10:10 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 25, 2015 10:25 P.M.)
An Israeli soldier runs past a flag belonging to the ruling Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip, on November 17, 2012 (AFP/Abbas Momani/File)
NEW YORK (AFP) -- A US judge Monday ordered Palestinian authorities to post $10 million in cash or bond while they appeal a ruling to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to American victims of attacks.

Judge George Daniels said the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization must also deposit $1 million every 30 days, pending appeal of the February verdict.

A New York jury found the PA and PLO liable for six attacks in Jerusalem between 2002-2004, awarding American victims and their families damages that amounted to $655.5 million.

Daniels said the judgment in favor of the plaintiffs would be entered in the next 60 days, but would be stayed pending appeal as long as the deposits were made with the clerk of the court.

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration urged Daniels to "carefully consider" the PA's precarious finances in deciding whether to impose a bond requirement.

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised "significant concerns" about what could happen if a bond "severely compromised the Palestinian Authority's ability to operate as a governmental authority."

He said that depriving the PA "of a significant portion" of its revenue would "severely compromise" its ability to operate and warned that any collapse of the PA would "undermine" US foreign policy and "add a new destabilizing factor to the region."

The six bombings and shootings killed 33 people and wounded more than 390 others between January 2002 and January 2004.

They were carried out by Hamas and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- blacklisted as terrorist organizations in the United States -- during the Second Intifada, or Palestinian uprising.

The plaintiffs claimed that the PA and PLO were responsible for providing material support to the groups, and the court heard that members of both groups were on the PA and PLO payroll.

Defense lawyers said there was no conclusive evidence that the senior leadership of the PA or PLO were involved in planning or approving specific acts of violence.

They disputed that the leadership should be held responsible for "crazy" attacks carried out by people who acted independently.

The six attacks took place against Hebrew University, in Jaffa Road, King George Street, against the number 19 bus and in French Hill, a Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report.
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