We were amused to read that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has informed the United States government that the Palestinian Authority will no longer accept any U.S. aid. This after a new federal law exposes PA officials to lawsuits over their roles in Palestinian terror.
The law, the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act of 2018, was quietly signed into law last October by President Donald Trump and amends the civil liability provision of the Anti-Terrorism Act in three important ways. It eliminates certain legal defenses, makes more assets available for attachment and requires foreign entities to consent to the federal courts’ personal jurisdiction for ATA claims as a condition for receiving U.S. foreign assistance. All of the changes are significant in that they make it easier to prevail over terrorism and collect on any judgments that are obtained. But it is the last one that has drawn the most attention as witness the Abbas letter.
Before the ATA, one of the key obstacles to enforcing a finding of culpability against individuals tied to the PA – or even the organizations themselves – for terrorists acts against Americans overseas was that they were all foreign entities and could only be reached in American courts if the intended targets were Americans. Federal courts had interpreted the law to that effect. What this new law does, however, is require a foreign entity – as a condition of accepting U.S. aid – to agree that American courts have personal jurisdiction, whether or not U.S. citizens were the targets.
But what intrigued us most about the new, law other than the common sense of it, was the opposition expressed by the Palestinian Authority and some foreign policy types that had served in the Obama administration, who had expressed fear that the PA would not be able to afford to continue their security cooperation with Israel in the West Bank.
Perhaps the PA should stop encouraging terror, via stipends for the families of killed or imprisoned terrorists, in the first place.