Foreign Policy Blogs

Cases Against the Authority

An article printed in the Jerusalem Post this past week provides an interesting overview of the rising popularity of victims' families filing lawsuits in Israeli courts against the Palestinian Authority since the start of the second intifadah.

The Israeli government has openly admitted that it has not only the right, but the obligation, to protect its citizens and defend itself against threats via a proactive campaign in the West Bank, typified by checkpoints, daily raids, arrests, and targeted killings and the construction of the infamous separation wall.

Such tactics severely limit the Palestinian Authority's ability to enact their own security measures. For example, Palestinian security forces are prohibited from venturing outside their designated jurisdictions and in most cases, are unable to conduct operations at night.

This is a source of confusion for many moderate Palestinians, who argue that if Israel has asserted its right to defend itself by conducting a military campaign in the West Bank that not only overshadows the efforts of the PA, but in fact restricts its ability to function, how is it that the Palestinian government be held accountable? Still, some figures, such as Nitzana Darshan-Leitner a lawyer representing one of the Israeli victims, have gone so far as to say that the PA itself is responsible for the ongoing attacks

Earlier this month the U.S. administration made it clear that they have opted to play neutral on this issue, recognizing the potential damage to the fragile West Bank economy the nearly 1 billion dollars in payouts the PA faces in these lawsuits could pose, but has stopped short of making any statements that would make them seem unsympathetic to the families of victims.

In this case, in terms of securing the West Bank, both Israelis and Palestinians might agree that the term "Palestinian Authority' can sometimes be a bit of a misnomer.