Palestinians Sue Alleged Settlement Supporters for $34.5 Billion in U.S. Court

Sheldon Adelson, Irving Moskowitz, Friends of the IDF, Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim and Volvo are among the respondents named in a suit filed in Washington D.C.

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Construction in West Bank settlement Modi'in Illit, March 2011.
Construction in West Bank settlement Modi'in Illit, March 2011.Credit: AP

A group of American Palestinians living in the West Bank have filed a $34.5 billion lawsuit in a Washington court against a string of U.S.-based tycoons and companies allegedly connected to the Israeli occupation.

Among those named in the suit are casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, philanthropist Irving Moskowitz and evangelist John Hagee.

Brought by Washington lawyer Martin McMahon on behalf of Bassem al-Tamimi, of Nabi Saleh, and about 35 others, the suit alleges that the respondents contravened American law against money laundering, in terms of which the transfer of money for the purposes of committing a crime is illegal.

According to the plaintiffs, the establishment of settlements in the occupied territories has been accompanied by violence, death and injury, the destruction of houses and the burning of trees and is thus criminal.

Tamimi is a long-time anti-settlement activist. The current suit complements one he brought in December against the U.S. Treasury for allowing tax-free donations to settlements.

The respondents fall into three groups: individuals, non-governmental organizations and corporations.

In addition to Adelson, Moskowitz and Hagee, others mentioned in the suit include Israeli businessman Lev Leviev, media mogul and film producer Haim Saban and former diplomat Elliot Abrams.

The American NGOs named in the suit include Friends of the IDF in the U.S., Friends of Ariel, Honenu, a group of pro-settlements lawyers, the Hebron Fund, the Karnei Shomron Fund and the Falic Family Foundation.

Among the business named in the suit are Bank Leumi, Bank Hapoalim, Volvo (whose vehicles are allegedly used in house demolitions,) Africa-Israel, Motorola, Hewlett Packard and RE/MAX real estate.

The suit was filed in the Federal District Court of Washington DC on Monday. The lawyers for the plaintiffs told Al Jazeera that they expected protracted legal arguments over the court’s jurisdiction and potential dismissal proceedings.

It could take five years or more for the case to come to trial, if at all, said attorney Jameson Fox. "We have cases going that have lasted 13 years, so we are used to long cases," he added.

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