Who will pay the thousands of people whose property and businesses were damaged during the war in the north? Attorney Yehudah Talmon is initiating the submission of a symbolic claim in a US civil court.
Talmon, aided by a team of lawyers and accountants, will claim in the lawsuit that the Lebanese government is responsible for damages caused to residents of Israel because it didn't prevent Hizbullah from acting from its territory to harm Israeli citizens, thus violating the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism.
The team, which will work with Talmon to consolidate the claim, is expected to include, among others, the former Chief Administrator of the Courts and judge, Dan Arbel, Attorneys Yoram Dantziger, Nitzah Libay and the office of Ziv Haft Public Accountants. According to Talmon, the team is slated to convene next week to consolidate the claim.
"We have been swamped with petitions from tens of citizens, most of them business owners, who want to participate in the lawsuit," says Talmon.
By law, a civilian who is suing the state for compensation claims is not allowed to sue other bodies. Does the fact that people are joining your lawsuit jeopardize their eligibility to receive compensation from the Israeli government?
"No. Because this is a complementary claim intended to recover money to people that the Israeli government will not recover. We are going to demand compensation for loss of clientele, damage to sales, and damage to manufacturing capability. These are things the government does not compensate for."
What is the chance you will win the lawsuit?
"A few years ago, a claim was submitted in the United States against the Iranian government for damaging property belonging to American citizens. The prosecutors won. Lebanon, as a sovereign state, was not supposed to permit Hizbullah to hurt Israelis from its land. This is against international law."
Even if you win, what is the chance that the Lebanese government will recognize that claim and pay the money?
The Lebanese government does business with the US and maintains property in the United States. There is a possibility to collect money from Lebanon without its consent. Additionally, we intend to sue other bodies as well in the case that the Lebanese government will evade payment. No group associated in any way, shape, or form to Hizbullah is immune to these claims.
In the meantime, until you win, are you charging a fee from your Israeli clients?
"No. The lawsuit is being administered on the basis of "you didn't win, you don't pay."
Aren't Lebanese citizens likely to adopt the idea and sue the Israeli government for causing massive damages to them?
"In my opinion, the Lebanese need to sue their own government, but the courts will decide."