WASHINGTON – A federal judge in Washington has criticized the American administration's refusal to take a stand on a damages claim filed against the Palestinian Authority over a terror attack which left an American citizen dead.
Esh Kodesh Gilmore, 25, who worked as a security guard at the National Security Institute offices in east Jerusalem, was murdered in a terror attack which took place in the area in the year 2000. His friend Itay Swissa was seriously injured.
A $250 million damages claim for Gilmore's murder was filed in 2001 against the PA, its then-Chairman Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. The lawsuit was based on a law from 1991, which allows American citizens hurt in acts of terror abroad to file for damages in the United States.
District Judge Gladys Kessler defined the administration's attitude as "particularly unhelpful in resolving this difficult motion." According to the judge, "The court requested that the State Department file a Statement of Interest in order to understand the international ramifications of any order it might enter," but that the latter refused to do so as in previous cases.
The Gilmore family's lawsuit is only one in a series of claims filed by families of American terror victims against the Palestinian Authority, which are still awaiting their day in federal courts.
The Obama administration, like the former Bush administration, has been refusing to take a stand on the matter so as not to appear as acting against citizens hurt in terror attacks, and not to harm its relations with the PA, on the other hand.
Accordingly, the response delivered by the State Department to the Washington federal court was vague. The response noted the US supports lawful compensation to victims of terror from those responsible for their death, but that the US is concerned about the possible ramifications on the defense's financial abilities.
The judge rules that the court would not make a decision which may hinder progress in the Middle East peace process, and has therefore decided to continue the trial rather than order immediate compensation.