In the case of Sokolow v. PLO, a New York federal court jury recently issued an award of $665.5 million in favor of American victims of Palestinian terror and their families. The Palestinian Authority wants to appeal that judgment. In order to do so and avoid efforts to collect on the judgment while the appeal is pending, the P.A. would have to post a bond in the amount of the judgment, plus interest. The organization claims not to have the necessary funds and has asked U.S. District Judge George B. Daniels to allow it to post a lower amount.
Last week, Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken inserted himself and the State Department in the Sokolow case, raising a number of eyebrows in the process. Blinken began by making the understandable point that the P.A.’s continued viability is essential to U.S. security and diplomatic interests and that a worsening of the security situation in the West Bank could have negative repercussions for U.S. allies Israel, Jordan and Egypt. But he then ventured into very troubling waters by urging Daniels to “carefully consider” the risk that a substantial bond would push the P.A. to insolvency. Could it be that the State Department was urging a federal judge to require a lower bond amount from those found guilty by a jury of supporting those who killed Americans in terror attacks?
While it is troubling that Blinken and the State Department would weigh in on the side of the Palestinians in this terror compensation dispute, the weakness of Blinken’s arguments gives us the most pause. What exactly is the evidence that the admittedly troubled and corrupt P.A. would be wiped out if it was required to post a full bond as normally required in any appeal? Moreover, if, as Blinken states, the ability of victims to recover damages under the Antiterrorism Act advances U.S. security interests, why weaken victims’ efforts and the corresponding American strategy of combating and deterring terrorism?
In any event, the PA’s economic argument is suspect. The P.A. is not without its funders. Aside from the billions showered on it by Arab states and the tax revenues forwarded to it by Israel, the United States has over the years provided billions of dollars in assistance to the Palestinians. Time and again, instead of governing its citizenry effectively, it has used donated funds to fuel corruption and support terror. In light of that clear history, the last thing Blinken and the State Department should do is support an approach that will further enable the P.A.’s criminal behavior.