US jury rules that Palestinian Authority is liable for $600m damages to families of Americans killed in terrorist attacks

The court heard anguished testimony from relatives of victims of the terrorist attacks

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The Independent US

A New York jury ruled tonight that the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation are liable for harm caused to American families by terror strikes inside Israel between 2002 and 2004, a precedent that could open the way for others to seek similar financial redress.

The verdict, reached at the end of an often emotional seven-week trial in Manhattan, requires payment of $218.5 million (£141 million) to the dozens of plaintiffs who had filed suit arising from six different terrorist attacks in Israel that saw American citizens killed and injured. Under US anti-terrorism laws, the amount of the award will be automatically tripled to $655.5 million (£424 million).

It remains unclear how quickly the plaintiffs would actually see any of the money, not least because of the parlous state of the Palestinian Authority’s finances, which has been made worse by Israel’s refusal to give it tax revenue it is owed as punishment for seeking membership of the International Criminal Court.

The jury’s decision may however prove a political fillip for the Israeli government and for Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu who is fighting for re-election.

The court heard anguished testimony from relatives of victims of the terrorist attacks, including a bombing of a cafeteria on the campus of Hebrew University.

A spokeperson from Palestinian Authority called the charges baseless and said they would appeal. Dr. Mahmoud Khalifa, Deputy Minister of Information, said: "The New York Court ignored the legal precedent set time and again by other US courts - including a ruling last week by a Federal Judge in Washington DC - that established that US localities are not the proper jurisdiction for such a hearing."