Terrorism Claims Over 'Occupied Palestine' Fail
(CN) - Residents of "Occupied Palestine" cannot advance claims that five U.S. organizations have funded terrorist attacks on Palestinians, a federal judge ruled.
The 13 men and women - two American citizens, 10 Palestinians and one Greek - who brought the complaint are all residents of the West Bank, a territory they refer to as "Occupied Palestine." They say that at least a portion of the territory where they live is "within the internationally recognized borders of the future Palestinian state."
The lawsuit claimed that more than half a million Israeli citizens, or "settlers," live in communities in the West Bank that violate international law and are responsible for numerous attacks on Palestinians and others living in Occupied Palestine.
The attacks included stonings, firebombings, shootings, beatings, the destruction of property and vandalism, and were intended to "coerce, intimidate, and influence the Israeli government and public and thereby ultimately bring the expulsion of the Palestinian residents from Occupied Palestine," according to the complaint.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman dismissed the claims Monday, finding that the allegations in the complaint were insufficient to tie the funds to terrorist activity.
The Americans in the case alone brought allegations under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), regarding five "purported charities" based in the United States that allegedly provided the settlers with millions of dollars through direct wire transfers.
They said money from Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, the Hebron Fund Inc., the Central Fund of Israel, One Israel, and American Friends of Ateret Cohanim is used to "build and maintain the illegal settlements, illegally take land in Occupied Palestine, to support the attacks by the settlers on Palestinians living in Occupied Palestine, and to support the terrorist acts of the settlers against Palestinians and other persons in Occupied Palestine."
But Judge Furman deemed the allegation "entirely conclusory."
"The American plaintiffs do not (and cannot) allege that the settlers are a designated terrorist organization," the 10-page opinion states (parentheses in original). "Nor do they allege that the settlers have publicly stated terrorist goals or are associates of established terrorist organizations."
Furman also sidelined claims about the settlers' supposedly admitted "Price Tag" attacks policy, in which they exact a "price" against Palestinian targets or Israeli security forces.
In addition to not providing details as to when or how the settlers professed such a policy, the residents did not allege that the American organizations gave money directly to the individuals or groups responsible for the "price tag" attacks, the court found.
"In the absence of such details, there are simply no facts alleged that could provide the court with a basis to infer that defendants knew, or were deliberately indifferent to, the fact that the wire transfers would be used to support terrorist activity," Furman wrote.
As to claims under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), brought by all the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs failed to show that the organizations' funding was clearly meant to support the attacks.
Additionally, the ATS - which "provides that '[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States'" - does not confer jurisdiction over claims brought against corporations, according to the ruling.