Tag Archives: Palestine

Case of the Day: Gilmore v. Palestinian Authority

The case of the day is Gilmore v. Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority (D.C. Cir. 2016). Esh Kodesh Gilmore, a US citizen, was killed in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem in 2000. His estate and survivors sued the Palestinian Authority and the PLO, asserting claims under the Anti-Terrorism Act and on common law theories. At first, the PA and the PLO defaulted, but they later moved to vacate the default and moved to dismiss, arguing that the suit “was a politically-motivated attack on the PA and therefore non-justiciable,” and that Palestine was a state and therefore entitled to foreign sovereign immunity. The court vacated the default and denied the motion to dismiss. But the PA then failed to answer, and again was defaulted. After a hearing to assess damages, the PA again moved to vacate the default, this time filing an answer and promising to participate fully in the litigation, including in discovery. The court vacated the default.

In discovery, the PA asserted the state secrets and law enforcement privileges as to material created by the General Intelligence Services, the PA’s intelligence agency. The court ordered an in camera review of the documents withheld, along with an ex parte submission by the PA explaining the documents. At the close of discovery, the PA sought summary judgment, arguing that there was no admissible evidence “linking Gilmore’s murder to any particular person.” The evidence consisted of statements published online by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a passage from the book, The Seventh War, which recounted a prison interview that implicated Muhanad Abu Halawa, a former PA soldier, in the murder, a statement by an associate of Halawa written and signed while in Israeli police custody, the testimony of the associate during the trial of Halawa’s supervisor, and an expert report by a former IDF intelligence officer. The court agreed that the evidence was inadmissible and granted summary judgment. Gilmore’s estate and survivors appealed.
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Case of the Day: Sokolow v. PLO

Woman being evacuated after a Jerusalem terror attack
Aftermath of a 2002 Palestinian terror attack in Jerusalem. Credit: Times of Israel / Flash90

The case of the day is Sokolow v. Palestine Liberation Organization (2d Cir. 2016). I wrote about a similar case, Safra v. Palestinian Authority, back in 2015. The gist of the earlier case, which was decided in Washington, was that the Palestinian Authority could not be sued for damages under the Anti-Terrorism Act because it was not subject to the court’s personal jurisdiction. The irony in Safra was that in order to prevail, the PA had to argue that it wasn’t a state, since states are always subject to the personal jurisdiction of the district courts in cases where an exception to FSIA immunity applies. That’s not a legal argument the supporters of unilateral declarations of Palestinian statehood are likely to want to trumpet, but it carried the day.
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