Group sues US, Clinton, for 'funding terror'

Shurat Hadin files lawsuit on behalf of Americans living in Israel over alleged funding of Palestinian terror in West Bank, Gaza.

US Secretary of State Clinton arrives in Israel 390 (photo credit: Matty Stern/US Embassy Tel Aviv )
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 and Gaza.
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.
In 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 moment.
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 the Palestinians.
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.
The lawsuit claims that since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the US State Department, via USAID, has given over $4 billion to Palestinians.
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 transparency.
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.
According to 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.
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.
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 complied with.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Norman Steiner of New York and Nitsana Darshan- Leitner, the director of Shurat HaDin.
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 people.”
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.