US government sued by American-Israelis
December 11, 2012 | Atara Beck - Israel Correspondent
A group of 24 Israelis holding American citizenship, including victims of terror, filed a lawsuit recently against the US government over its funding of terrorism through allocations to the West Bank and Gaza.
The plaintiffs are represented by attorneys Norman Steiner of New York and Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of Tel Aviv. Darshan-Leitner is founder and director of Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Centre – a Tel Aviv-based civil rights organization that works together with western intelligence agencies and volunteer lawyers around the world to file legal actions against terrorist organizations and the regimes that support them on behalf of victims. Steiner has been involved with Darshan-Leitner’s efforts in this regard even before the establishment of Shurat HaDin in 2003.
As explained by Shurat HaDin, this current civil action, “filed in the district court of Washington, DC, alleges that the US Department of State, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, has ignored congressional safeguards and transparency requirements attached to US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA). As well, the plaintiffs claim that the White House has not been complying with the regulations and reporting obligations regarding government presidential waivers, which facilitate emergency funding to the Palestinians. As a result of this alleged non-compliance, US funds have been flowing to terror groups.
“The suit asks the federal court to review the conduct of the State Department and the safeguards on funds being distributed by USAID in its programs to the PA and to the United Nations Refugee Worker’s Administration (UNRWA) and seeks to suspend future American aid to the PA and UNRWA until all the congressionally legislated regulations and reporting requirements are fully complied with.”
According to Darshan-Leitner, “once handed over, US funding of the PA and UNRWA is difficult to trace, and the State Department has been lax in requiring the Palestinians to use bank accounts and other transfer methods that ensure transparency.
“Elements of the US government, particularly the State Department and USAID, are breaking the law and must cease all funding of the PA immediately. US aid to the Palestinians is killing innocent people,” she alleged.
Steiner declared, “The American people are opposed to terror and do not want to fund it via their taxes. The ongoing non-compliance of the White House and State Department with congressionally mandated protections cannot be allowed to continue.”
The defendants are: Hillary R. Clinton, in her official capacity as secretary of state; Thomas R. Nides, in his official capacity as deputy secretary of state for management and resources; John Doe, director, office of US Foreign Assistance Resources, in his official capacity; US Department of State; Rajiv Shah, in his official capacity as administrator of the US Agency for International Development; and the US Agency for International Development.
The Jewish Tribune contacted the US Department of State for comment last week. A spokesperson twice promised to respond to the query but hasn’t done so prior to the publication deadline.
For the past several weeks, many here have expressed frustration at the Israeli government as well for continuing to provide money and services, such as electricity, to Gaza, notwithstanding the barrage of missiles flying into the Jewish state.
The situation is “similar,” Darshan-Leitner conceded in discussion with the Tribune, adding that it’s difficult to sue the Israeli government, “because they have immunity in Israel. I think they recklessly provide money to Hamas as well.”
Shurat HaDin’s achievements have included more than $1 billion in judgments against terror organizations and state sponsors, a freeze of more than $600 million in terror assets frozen, and $120 million-plus in recovered funds that went directly to the victims and their families.