US Secretary of State Clinton arrives in Israel 390.
(photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv )
A group of 24 Americans living in Israel, including victims of terrorism, filed
a lawsuit on Tuesday against US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US
government over allegations of funding Palestinian terrorism in the West Bank
The civil action, filed in the district court of Washington,
DC, alleges that the US State Department, including Clinton, has ignored
congressional safeguards and transparency requirements attached to US aid to the
Palestinian Authority under the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.
announcing the lawsuit, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center noted that it had filed
the case right as the PA is about to seek non-member status at the UN on
Thursday, implying that the lawsuit could have embarrassing consequences for the
PA, the US government and other supporters of the PA at a critical diplomatic
The US Embassy said that it could not provide an official
response by press time.
In the lawsuit, 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
As a result of the alleged noncompliance, the lawsuit
contends that US funds have been flowing, whether intentionally or
unintentionally, to terror groups like Hamas and others.
claims that since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the US State
Department, via USAID, has given over $4 billion to
However, Shurat HaDin could not provide clear figures about
how much of those amounts have found their way into the hands of terrorists,
focusing instead on the alleged failed supervision and
Shurat HaDin maintained that a more thorough investigation
of the PA budget would reveal concrete funding given by the PA to the Gaza
police, considered by many to part of Hamas’s armed wing. The organization
argues that the State Department should be demanding these amounts from the PA
and then providing the figures to Congress for oversight.
Shurat Hadin, the State Department is supposed to be providing very specific
oversight of the PA budget, spending and bank accounts as “an international
mechanism” to ensure that there is transparency.
Each time the president
utilizes a waiver and directly funds the PA because Congress does not want to
appropriate funds, contended Shurat Hadin, the State Department is supposed to
report to Congress that it knows where the PA funds are going and that they are
not being used for terrorism.
According to the lawsuit, Americans living
in proximity to these Palestinian terror groups 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 allegedly disregarding.
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.
It also seeks an
injunction to suspend future American aid to the PA and UNRWA until all
congressionally legislated regulations and reporting requirements are fully
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Norman Steiner
of New York and Nitsana Darshan- Leitner, the director of Shurat
Darshan-Leitner stressed that “once handed over, US funding of the
PA and UNRWA is difficult to trace and the State Department has been lax in
requiring the Palestinians to utilize bank accounts and other transfer methods
that ensure transparency.”
The founder of the Israeli counterterror group
added that “US aid to the Palestinians is killing innocent
Steiner added: “The American people are opposed to terror and do
not want to fund it via their taxes. The ongoing noncompliance of the White
House and State Department with congressionally mandated protections cannot be
allowed to continue.”
Established in 2003 and based in Tel-Aviv, Shurat
HaDin works together with Western intelligence agencies and volunteer lawyers
around the world to file legal actions on behalf of victims of terror.