NEW YORK - The US government may weigh in on whether the Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority must post a multimillion-dollar bond, which they have resisted doing, while the groups appeal a jury's finding that they supported terrorist attacks in Israel.
The US Department of Justice disclosed its potential interest in the case in a letter filed Monday in Manhattan federal court, six months after 10 American families won a $655 million verdict against the PLO and Palestinian Authority.
If the Justice Department filed a so-called statement of interest, it would mark the US government's first formal role in the diplomatically sensitive lawsuit, which was filed in 2004.
The Justice Department said it would decide by Aug. 10. A spokeswoman declined to comment.
On Tuesday, lawyers for the families urged a federal judge to add $165 million in pre-judgment interest to what they won at trial.
The families had won $218.5 million of damages, a sum automatically tripled under a 1992 U.S. anti-terrorism law to $655.5 million.
Defense lawyers said adding the requested interest would, after tripling, boost the total award to $1.15 billion.
"This could be the end of the Palestinian Authority," Mitchell Berger, its lawyer, said in court. "And that's why we're here to argue over the judgment."