Washington, DC (PRWEB) November 27, 2012
Today a group of twenty four American citizens who live in Israel, including victims of Palestinian terrorism, have filed a civil action in the United States against the U.S. federal government for allegedly funding terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza.
The lawsuit (United States District Court for Washington DC - Bernstein v. Clinton Case Number: 1:12-cv-01906), which was filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that the U.S. State Department has ignored Congressional safeguards and transparency requirements attached to U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). In addition, the plaintiffs claim that the White House has not been complying with the regulations and reporting obligations governing Presidential waivers which facilitate emergency funding to the Palestinians. As a result of this alleged non-compliance, US aid monies have been flowing to terror groups like Hamas, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Palestine Liberation Front.
According to the lawsuit, as Americans living in the closest proximity to these Palestinian terror groups, they are in the class of individuals that Congress sought to protect through the safeguards and regulations that the White House, State Department and USAID are disregarding. Several of the plaintiffs have themselves been past victims of Palestinian terrorism or had family members murdered.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Norman Steiner of New York and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel-Aviv.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, founder of The Israel Law Center, said: “Once handed over, U.S. funding of the PA and UNRWA is difficult to trace and the State Department has allegedly been lax in requiring the Palestinians to utilize bank accounts and other transfer methods that ensure transparency. According to the lawsuit, elements of the U.S. Government, particularly the State Department and USAID, are allegedly breaking the law and they must cease all funding of the PA immediately. US aid to the Palestinians is allegedly killing innocent people.”
According to Norman Steiner: "The American people are opposed to terror and do not want to fund it via their taxes. According to the lawsuit, the ongoing alleged non-compliance of the White House and State Department with Congressionally mandated protections cannot be allowed to continue."
The suit asks the federal court to review the conduct of the State Department and the safeguards on funds being distributed by USAID in its programs to the PA and to the United Nations Refugee Worker's Administration (UNRWA) and seeks to suspend future American aid to the PA and UNRWA until all the Congressionally legislated regulations and reporting requirements are fully complied with.
The United States Department of State, according to and under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, is prohibited from providing “material support” to proscribed terrorist groups. It is estimated that since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the United States State Department, via USAID has given over $4 billion to Palestinians, with portions of that funding illegally landing in the hands of terrorists. During the last four fiscal years, average aid has been roughly $600 million per year. Additionally, the United States gives approximately $200 million to the United Nations body UNRWA, each year, and during the fiscal years 2008 and 2009, UNRWA gave roughly $500 million of their funding to recipients in the West Bank and Gaza.
(U.S. Foreign Aid to the Palestinians. Rep. Congressional Research Service, 15 June 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RS22967.pdf)
("H.R. 4681 (109th): Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006." Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act of 2006 (2006; 109th Congress H.R. 4681). Govtrack.us, 01 Feb. 2006. Web. 27 Nov. 2012. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr4681)
Under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, the State Department is allegedly required to certify that the Palestinian government is committed to a peace co-existence with Israel before distributing funds, and ensure that no part of funding is used for Palestinian terrorism. The plaintiffs allege that these crucial safeguards, transparency obligations and reporting requirements are being negligently ignored.
About Shurat HaDin: Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center is an Israeli based civil right organization and world leader in combating the terrorist organizations and the regimes that support them through lawsuits litigated in courtrooms around the world. Fighting for the rights of hundreds of terror victims, Shurat HaDin seeks to bankrupt the terror groups and grind their criminal activities to a halt - one lawsuit at a time.
About Nitsana Darshan- Leitner: Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is an Israeli attorney, human rights activist and the founder of Shurat HaDin Israeli Law Center. She built her reputation through legal activism, especially lawsuits and legal actions brought on behalf of terror victims against terrorist groups, their leaders and financial patrons. In addition, her law office has brought civil actions against numerous banks and financial institutions she accuses of aiding and abetting Islamic and Arab groups engaged in terror attacks.