A US appeals court on Tuesday reopened a $1 billion lawsuit by Palestinians claiming more than 30 pro-Israel American entities and individuals are liable for alleged war crimes and support of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
The complaint alleges that the defendants engaged in a conspiracy to expel all non-Jews from the disputed territory. The plaintiffs claim individual Americans funneled millions of dollars through tax-exempt entities to Israeli “settlements.” The settlements would then hire security to train Israeli militants to “kill Palestines and confiscate their property.” Additionally, the claim says construction companies would destroy Palestinian property to build Israeli settlements and that a former US deputy national security advisor endorsed such settlements.
In a unanimous decision, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said a federal district judge wrongly concluded that the plaintiffs’ claims raised political questions that could not be decided in American courts.
Judge Karen LeCraft Henderson said the only political question at issue is who had sovereignty over the disputed territories. However, she said the courts could rule on whether the defendants are “committing genocide” without “addressing who had sovereignty over the disputed territory.”
The defendants, all American citizens or entities, include eight high net-worth individuals, thirteen tax exempt entities, two banks, eight construction and support firms and a former US deputy national security advisor.