Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) not only came out against the Iran deal — something he planned to announce Friday but was reportedly leaked early to the Huffington Post by a miffed White House — but on Thursday asked the administration to butt out of a case to grant damages to Palestinian terror victims.
Schumer’s letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Secretary of State John Kerry involves the case Sokolow v. Palestinian Liberation Organization, in which the PLO and Palestinian Authority were orderedto pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages to American victims of six terrorist attacks in Israel between 2001 and 2004.
Plaintiff Mark Sokolow was in the World Trade Center, survived the 9/11 attacks, and four months later took his family on a trip to Israel. They were injured when a suicide bomber attacked Jaffa Street in Israel. They and other victims used the Antiterrorism Act of 1990 to sue the Palestinian leaders.
Schumer asked Lynch and Kerry to “refrain from taking any action in the case,” brought under a law enacted “so that terrorists and state sponsors of terrorism are held accountable for their terrible crimes.”
“Last February a jury found that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) culpable for terrorism and ordered a judgement of $655.5 million. I am troubled to hear United States Department of Justice is considering asking the Court to protect the PLO and PA from having to pay the judgment,” Schumer wrote.
“Congress passed the Antiterrorism Act to give American families a remedy and to hold perpetrators of terrorism accountable for their actions. The judge in this case has the power to determine details of the judgement, including when and how it should be paid. The size of the judgement in this case reflects the severity of the crimes and the large numbers of families affected,” he continued. “I believe that the jury’s decision in this case, and the judge’s subsequent determinations, should be respected and the wheels of justice should be allowed to move forward without interference from the administration.”
“Again, I respectfully ask that the Department of Justice to respect the judgement and not provide a Statement of Interest in Sokolow v. Palestinian Liberation Organization.”
In a statement released along with the letter, Schumer stressed that the Antiterrorism Act exists for “repugnant acts of terrorism” like the PLO attacks.
“In this case, the judge and jury found the Palestinian Authority and the PLO guilty in an attack that maimed and killed dozens, including our fellow Americans, and they levied a well-founded and justified damage award for the victims,” he said. “I am urging the U.S. to not intervene in the jury’s decision, which holds the Palestinian Authority accountable for several acts of terrorism that killed 33 and injured hundreds. The Court’s authority should be respected and the victims of these horrific attacks should be allowed to secure some measure of justice for the mindless violence they have already suffered.”