The Jewish Virtual Library describes the Palestine Liberation Organization as “undoubtedly one of the most infamous terrorist organizations around the world,” and 20 years ago a proposal in Congress noted the organization, under the leadership then of Yasser Arafat, violated the Oslo Accords and its commitment to “a peaceful resolution” in the Middle East.
A PLO faction carried out the Achille Lauro hijacking and murder of Leon Klinghoffer. During the 1970s, a subgroup carried out the Munich Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes. The PLO is also responsible for the murder of 26 school students on a bus, eight hostages at the Savoy Hotel and 37 in the Coastal Road massacre.
It was described as the richest of terror groups, with assets of up to $10 billion, including an annual income of almost $2 billion from, according to the British National Criminal Intelligence Service, “donations, extortion, payoffs, illegal arms dealing, money laundering, fraud.”
Now the Biden administration is thinking about letting the group “unconditionally re-open its Washington office.”
Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have warned the White House that would violate the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, sponsored by Lankford, which became law in 2019.
The issue is that in lawsuits over terrorism, the PLO has argued it is not subject to U.S. law.
The senators said that in order for the PLO “to have an office within the US, the Palestinians must consent to U.S. jurisdiction when doing so.”
Grassley authored a bill unanimously passed in 1992 called the Anti-Terrorism Act, which holds accountable anyone who supports terrorism targeting Americans abroad.
But several court decisions create loopholes, so the Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act was adopted just two years ago.
The law “ensured U.S. victims of terrorism can have their day in a U.S. court,” the senators explained.
“The law is clear that the Palestinians must consent to U.S. jurisdiction in order to establish a presence in the United States. The administration must make clear to the PLO and PA that the only path to re-establishing a presence on American soil is to consent to U.S. jurisdiction and negotiate in good faith with terror victims to resolve their claims,” the senators wrote to Secretary of State Tony Blinken.
The senators said they understand the Palestinians are insisting that Congress “immunize them from suits” brought under the ATA.
The senators wrote: “At present, the PLO and the PA are attempting to avoid the jurisdiction of the U.S. courts and are not engaged in any settlement negotiations with victim families. Instead, according to recent press reports, they are in ‘talks’ with the State Department about a ‘fix’ that would immunize them from jurisdiction while reopening their Washington office.
“We urge the State Department to support the ability of U.S. terror victims to have their day in court against sponsors of terrorism. We also wish to inform you that, as the original authors of the PSJVTA, we will vigorously oppose efforts to circumvent this statute,” they wrote.
“The ATA provides U.S. citizens, and their successors, heirs, and estates, with a cause of action against terrorists and those who actively support terrorism that harms Americans outside of the United States. The ability of victims to recover under the ATA advances our nation’s compelling interest in deterring and defeating terrorism. Compensating victims at the expense of those who have committed or supported terrorist acts contributes to U.S. efforts to disrupt and impede support for terrorist activity,” they said.
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