The lawsuit, Sokolow v The Palestine Liberation Organization, brought by the intrepid David Strachman, alleges that the PLO carried out two machine-gun and five bombing attacks in the Jerusalem area between January 2001 and February 2004. The plaintiffs allege, in the words of U.S. District Judge George Daniels, that the PLO did so "intending to terrorize, intimidate, and coerce the civilian population of Israel into acquiescing to defendants' political goals and demands, and to influence the policy of the United States and Israeli governments in favor of accepting defendants' political goals and demands." The attacks killed 33 and wounded many more, some of them U.S. citizens; the victims and their families are seeking up to US$3 billion in damages from the PLO.The court record seems to go a little even beyond this.
To this, the PLO, represented in part by none other than the appalling Ramsey Clark (who in a distant age, 1967-69, was attorney general of the United States), replied that the attacks were acts of war rather than terrorism. As Daniels summarizes the PLO argument: "defendants argue that subject matter jurisdiction is lacking because this action is premised on acts of war, which is barred under the ATA [Antiterrorism Act of 1991], and further is based on conduct which does not meet the statutory definition of ‘international terrorism'."
This response is noteworthy for two reasons: (1) Fifteen years after Oslo supposedly ended the state of war, four years after Mahmoud Abbas took over and supposedly improved on Arafat's abysmal record, the PLO publicly maintains it remains at war with Israel. (2) The PLO argues, even in the context of an American law court, that blatant, cruel, inhumane, and atrocious acts of murder constitute legitimate acts of warfare.
Firstly, the lawsuit is against both the PLO and the PA, so the defendants represent both entities. One cannot argue even facetiously that the PA is somehow not claiming to be at war with Israel, but only the PLO is.
Secondly, since the ATA does not apply to sovereign states, the PLO claimed that Palestine is a state for the purposes of this lawsuit:
An ATA action may not be maintained against a foreign state or the agencies, officers and employees thereof, acting within their official capacity or under color of legal authority....While the PLO and PA argue their sovereignty, they do not claim individual statehood status.Their assertion of immunity derives from the claimed sovereignty of the State of Palestine. Defendants claim that they are essential agencies of Palestine, performing core governmental functions and, as such, are entitled to immunity.The Palestinian Authority is claiming in legal documents that bombing cafeterias, bus stops, buses and busy downtown streets in Jerusalem are "core governmental functions" as part of their war with Israel.