COVID-19 Special Coverage
US court voids multi-million judgment against Palestine for lack of jurisdiction
US court voids multi-million judgment against Palestine for lack of jurisdiction

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] voided [text, PDF] a $655 million judgment against Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority Wednesday, citing a lack of jurisdiction. The case concerned 11 US families who claimed that the defendants used terrorists to kill their family members in Israel. While the lower court concluded, following a seven-week trial, that the defendants “acting through their employees, perpetrated the attacks and … knowingly provided material support to organizations designated by the United States State Department as foreign terrorist organizations,” the court of appeals found no basis for personal or specific jurisdiction allowing them to uphold the ruling. The court held that:

The federal courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in a civil case beyond the limits prescribed by the due process clause of the Constitution, no matter how horrendous the underlying attacks or morally compelling the plaintiffs’ claims.The district court could not constitutionally exercise either general or specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants in this case. Accordingly, this case must be dismissed.

Claims of human rights abuses continue to be an issue in Palestine due to the Isreali-Palestine conflict. On Monday Palestinian authorities were accused [JURIST report] of violating free speech rights by arresting and abusing dissenting activists and journalists by Human Rights Watch. In April an Israeli court convicted Yosef Haim for the 2014 murder of a Palestinian teenager that led to a 50-day war in Gaza [JURIST report]. In May the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT), a body of independent experts, released closing remarks to its fifty-seventh session, expressing concern about the use of excessive force by Israeli forces against Palestinians [JURIST Report]. In July a report by Amnesty International called upon Palestinian and Israeli officials to address human rights violations committed by their forces [JURIST report].