The Palestinian Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority will get an unusual second chance to challenge a very expensive lawsuit that had previously been ignored.
This is something you don't see every day. In April 2005, after the defendants essentially stopped responding, a federal court issued a default judgment in favor of the victims of a February 2002 suicide bombing in the West Bank village of Karnei Shomron. Two American teenagers died in the bombing of the pizza parlor, and many others were injured.
The victims and family members sued Syria as well as the Palestinian Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority and others. By defaulting, the Palestinian organizations faced a judgment potentially exceeding $300 million. Now, though, they want a chance to contest the lawsuit.
In a decision made public Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said that though "the default was wilfull at the time, (the Palestinian organizations) clearly demonstrated their commitment to engaging in this litigation." Moreover, Leon noted, imposing a massive liability "on a struggling government, even if that government is not a recognized state, is not something this court takes lightly."
And so the case is back on.