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Arab Bank lawsuit (re terrorist attacks in Israel)

Between 2004 and 2010 families of the victims and survivors of the territorst attacks in israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip that occured between 1995 and 2005 filed several lawsuits in US court against the Jordanian-based Arab Bank. Plaintiffs are US and foreign nationals. They allege the Bank provided financial services to the terrorist organizations. Many of the plaintiffs reached a confidential settlement with Arab Bank before trial. The remaining claimants went to trial. The Supreme Court ruled for Arab Bank, stating corporations cannot be sued under the Alien Tort Statute for complicity in human rights abuses committed abroad. 

 

Between 2004 and 2010, families of the victims and survivors of the terrorist attacks in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that occurred between 1995 and 2005 filed several lawsuits under the Alien Tort Statute and the Anti-Terrorist Act in a US federal district court against the Jordanian-based Arab Bank.  The plaintiffs are US and foreign nationals.  The lawsuits allege the Bank provided financial services that allowed several Palestinian militant organizations to engage in terrorist activities, claiming the Bank knew or should have known its accounts were being used to pay the families of suicide bombers.  Arab Bank denied the claims.

Between 2007 and 2010, the court dismissed all claims of foreign plaintiffs under the Anti-Terrorist Act. In 2013, a US judge also dismissed the claims of foreign plaintiffs under the Alien Tort Statute with reference to the Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum case, ruling that the plaintiffs cannot bring lawsuits against companies under this law. In 2016, the court of appeal affirmed the lower court's judgment and denied a rehearing of the case. On 3 April 2017, the Supreme Court accepted the plaintiffs’ request to decide on whether the Alien Tort Statute applied to companies and heard oral arguments on 11 October 2017. 

On 24 April 2018,  the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that foreign corporations cannot be sued in the US for complicity in human rights abuses abroad. The ruling, decided by a 5-to-4 vote upheld the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, which ruled in favor of Arab Bank arguing that corporations may not be sued under the Alien Tort Statute. According to the ruling, explicit congressional authorisation is required in cases involving international human rights cases against foreign defendants.

In 2014, the claims of US plaintiffs against Arab Bank went on trial.  The jury found the bank liable under the US Anti-Terrorist Act for knowingly providing assistance to Palestinian militant group Hamas and consequently being complicit in terrorist attacks that took place between 2001 and 2004.  Damages were to be assessed in a separate trial.  However, Arab Bank reached a confidential settlement with the US claimants ahead of the trial.

 All documents available here.

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