It is possible to enforce in Israel a US court ruling ordering the Palestinian Authority to compensate terror victims, said Judge Aharon Farkash of the Jerusalem District Court, on Monday.
The district rejected a PA petition to forego paying over $100 million dollars to the family of two American terror victims, Yaron and Efrat Ungar, as was decreed in a 2004 US Supreme Court ruling. The PA claimed that Israeli enforcement of the American ruling could cause the organization to collapse.
Four years after Yaron and Efrat Ungar were murdered in 1996 by Palestinian terrorists who assaulted their vehicle, the couple’s family took a law suit against the Palestinian Authority to the US Supreme Court. The family claimed that the tragic deaths of the Ungars - both American citizens - were caused by Hamas, with the aid of PA security mechanisms.
In July 2004, the Supreme Court ordered the PLO and PA to pay $116 million dollars to the couple’s family, following which, the family turned to the Jerusalem District Court with a petition to enforce the US court’s ruling in Israel.
The PA responded with a counter-petition, stating that the enforcement of such a suit would have public, political, financial and security implications both for the Palestinians and for Israel. Specifically, they claimed that paying compensations to the families of terror victims could bankrupt the PA, especially since it could lead to similar suits against the organization.
Monday, the district court, headed by Farkash, determined that the American ruling in this case is enforceable in Israel, despite Palestinian objections.
“How can one accept the claim that a legal ruling should not be enforced because it might hurt the perpetrator financially? Should we not punish convicted persons for no other reason than that it might cause their bankruptcy?” Judge Farkash wrote.
According to the judge, the Ungar family, in their petition to the Jerusalem District Court, sufficiently established their case that conditions exist to enforce the American ruling in Israel. He noted, however, that the PA taxes temporarily being withheld by Israel would not be released, such that the implementation of the ruling might be delayed.