The Bush administraton is deliberating whether to intercede on behalf of the Palestinian Authority and the PLO to support relitigation of a judgment ordering them to pay $174 million in damages to the family of Aharon Ellis (photo below). Glenn Kessler’s Washington Post story notes that that the PA and the PLO did not appear in federal court to contest the lawsuit brought against them by Ellis’s widow, Leslye Knox. The PA and the PLO now seek to have the default judgment against them in favor of Knox and the rest of Ellis’s family vacated.
Ron Knox’s Chicago Tribune story adds poignant details to the story. Ellis was the first Israeli-born child of the “Black Hebrew” community and a singer whose parents were from the south side of Chicago. Ellis was singing with the band at a bar mitzvah celebration in Hadera when an Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade terrorist sprayed fire from an M-16, killing six. Ellis was killed while saving the life of a female singer.
These circumstances present the Bush administration with a dilemma. It has exerted itself mightily on behalf of the the PA, the PLO, and Mahmoud Abbas. Yet it has also expounded the doctrine that that the United States would not distinguish between terror networks and the regimes that support them. The Bush administration is deliberating whether to support relief from the judgment against the PLO and the PA. The deadline for the administration’s response to the court’s request for its position is today.
The Palestinian Authority’s vulnerability to the Ellis and other lawsuits reflects the fact that the PA is not accorded sovereign immunity in American courts because it is not a state. Not yet. The PA continues to incite terrorism and the ruling Fatah party continues to operate a terrorist “wing” or two including the one that murdered Leslye Knox’s husband. Upon the creation of a Palestinian state succeeding the Palestinian Authority, the state would be accorded sovereign immunity in American courts.
Andrew McCarthy watches from the sidelines and highlights the contradictions. There is a deeper contradiction than the one explored in McCarthy’s column. It is the contradiction represented by the administration’s efforts to create a Palestinian state when the PA has failed to take the first step of the roadmap requiring the renunciation of terror and the dismantling of the terrorist infrastructure reflected in the Ellis lawsuit.
It is the administration’s abandonment of the roadmap — Secretary Rice’s declaration that the administration was no longer “stuck in the sequentiality of the roadmap” — that perhaps most seriously contributes to the dilemma confronting the Bush administration today.
UPDATE: Reading Andy McCarthy’s charitable response to this post, I’m not sure whether he or I have identified the deepest contradiction in the circumstances at issue here. But I am sure that if the judgment is left standing against the PLO, American taxpayers will foot the bill. I think that would undoubtedly qualify as the deepest contradiction.
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