Terror Victim Families Seek Foreign Minister's Arrest
by Hillel Fendel
(IsraelNN.com) Family members of victims of Arab terrorism wish to sue the Palestinian Authority - but cannot do so until the Foreign Minister issues a decision determining whether or not the PA is immune to such suits. The families have therefore decided to take the unprecedented step of filing a court order demanding that Livni be either arrested or fined for "contempt of court."
The order that Livni must determine the PA's legal standing was issued by the Jerusalem District Court in July 2007.
The families, represented by Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the Israel Law Center, are the following:
• that of Vadim Norzitch, one of the two victims of the Ramallah lynching in October 2000;
• the Cohen family, three of whose children lost legs in the Kfar Darom bus bombing in November 2000;
• the parents of two Tel Aviv cousins, Moti Dayan and Etgar Zaitouna, who were abducted in January 2001 from a Tulkarem restaurant and shot to death;
• and 80 others.
"The PA always claims," Darshan-Leitner says, "that it enjoys sovereign immunity from claims of this nature. Last July, the Supreme Court ruled that the PA's status shall be determined by the Foreign Minister - and the Jerusalem District Court then ordered Livni to do so. Despite this, and despite the fact that Livni was granted an extension, at her request, she has not adhered to the ruling and has not issued the necessary certificate."
The court order stipulates that Livni must issue a certificate determining the PA's legal status.
First Time Ever
Never in history has an Israeli government minister been the subject of a legal request to be deemed in contempt of court. The punishment for such is either a monetary fine or incarceration until the guilty party adheres to the court order.
The petition against Livni states that it is predicated on the fact that if governmental authorities - and certainly the Foreign Minister - do not adhere to court orders, this is liable to lead to a drop in public trust in the law enforcement system.
"Ever since the monetary claims against the Palestinian Authority began," Darshan-Leitner said, "the government has consistently claimed that the PA does not have diplomatic immunity. What, then, could be holding up the Foreign Minister from filling in this simple form and submitting it to the court? Her behavior is an example of total government wantonness and is a dangerous precedent. She is not above the law, and if she violates a court order, she must be punished."
A spokesperson for Foreign Minister Livni had not returned a request for a comment by press time.
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