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Lawyer says PLO not to blame for Israel attacks

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A lawyer for the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority told a jury in an opening statement Tuesday that the groups are not to blame for seven terror attacks in Israel from 2001 to 2004.

Attorney Mark Rochon said the attacks were carried out by suicide bombers and gunmen “acting on their own angry, crazy reasons” and that the organizations are victims of guilt by association.

The $1 billion lawsuit was filed in 2004 over attacks in or near Jerusalem that killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more, including scores of U.S. citizens.

The two organizations have argued that a U.S. court should not have jurisdiction over the case just because the PLO maintains a 12-person office in the United States.

The publicity of the trial, “some of it inevitable, some of it sought by plaintiffs, will undermine the confidence in the PA’s ability to govern and contribute to a worsening of tensions in the region at a delicate moment,” the organizations’ lawyers wrote in court papers.

The lawsuit brought under the Antiterrorism Act of 1991 is being heard by an anonymous jury.

“The injuries remain very fresh for most of these people,” plaintiffs’ attorney Phil Horton said in an interview.

Any damages awarded would be automatically tripled because the claims involved acts of terrorism, he said. SAPA

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