High Court: PA responsible for terrorism, can be sued by victims of attacks
The Israeli High Court says the Palestinian Authority can be held responsible for its controversial policy of paying stipends to security prisoners in Israeli jails and to those killed in clashes with Israelis, including those who died while committing deadly terrorist attacks.
Judge Yitzhak Amit writes in the ruling that the decision to pay convicted Palestinian terrorists and Palestinians killed in the “fight against Israel” makes the PA responsible for their actions.
“[The PA] expresses consent to their actions, in a way that takes responsibility for those actions. This justifies that [the PA] will be given personal and direct responsibility,” writes Amit.
Palestinians defend the payments as necessary social welfare for families who have lost a breadwinner. Critics slam the payment system – in which prisoners are given higher sums for longer prison sentences – saying it effectively incites terrorism.
The plaintiffs in this case are four families who lost loved ones in four separate terrorist attacks during the early days of the second Intifada. The Jerusalem District Court denied their petition, but the High Court, led by Amit, ruled in their favor.
Legal debate in the High Court centered on the extent to which the Ramallah prisoner payments “retroactively authorized” terrorist attacks by their recipients.
Under Israel’s Damages Law, a party can be held liable not only if it ‘advises, assists…or orders and authorizes’ legal damages – but also if it retroactively ‘ratifies’ the damages. caused to another.
The justice recognizes that the decision is “precedent and unusual” in its interpretation of the ratification clause in the law of damages.
Amit rules, however, that the Palestinian Authority can only be sued for reparations, rather than punitive damages. This means that relatively lower payments can be ordered by the courts before which Ramallah can be judged.