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>JN Aug. 13, 1997, Vol. 5, No. 148
PLO Settles Klinghoffer's Achille Lauro Lawsuit
By Barbara Schoetzau (VOA-New York)
After years of litigation, the Palestine Liberation Organization
has agreed to settle a lawsuit concerning a terrorist attack in
In October 1985 four Palestinian terrorists seized the Italian
cruise ship "Achille Lauro" off the coast of Egypt and held its
passengers hostage for two days. After the hijackers surrendered
in exchange for a pledge of safe conduct out of Egypt, a stunned
world learned the terrorists had killed a wheelchair bound American
passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, and tossed his body overboard.
Richard Murphy was US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern
Affairs at the time. He says the incident became a symbol of
terrorism. "It has often been cited in years past as an example of
Palestinian terrorism at its worst, striking at an innocent party,
in this case on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean."
Klinghoffer's family took an unprecedented step and sued the PLO,
saying an organization could be held accountable for acts of
terrorism. In 1990, a US federal court judge agreed. But the PLO
has always said the attack was initiated by a renegade splinter
group acting without the authority of the PLO.
The lawsuit was expected to finally go to trial in New York in
the next few weeks. But now lawyers for both sides have announced
that Klinghoffer's daughters and the PLO have reached a settlement.
The lawyers refuse to disclose the amount of money involved, but
call the settlement amicable.
Ambassador Murphy suggests PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat did not want
a court case to rekindle memories of the PLO's past terrorist
involvements -- especially now when tensions in the Middle East are
The PLO also settled with a travel agency involved in the "Achille
Lauro" cruise. Klinghoffer's daughters continue to call for the
extradition to the United States of Abu Abbas, who is believed to
have directed the operation aboard the "Achille Lauro." Abbas has
reportedly been seen in the Gaza Strip within the last year.
Jews Arrested at Temple Mount
By IINS News Service
On Tuesday, Tisha B'Av, police permitted small numbers of the
Temple Mount Faithful to go onto the Temple Mount as they do
annually on this day, marking the destruction of the First and
Second Temples. The participants, dressed in sack cloth, were
prohibited from uttering any words of prayer.
Conservative Worshipers Expelled from Western Wall
By IINS News Service
As thousands began to gather for Tisha B'Av services at the Western
Wall Monday night, a group of about 200 Conservative Jews were told
to leave the Western Wall area.
The group, which intended to conduct a prayer service with men and
women together was ordered out of the area by the head of Israel's
religious sites. Police moved in and enforced the order.
Orthodox Jews object to repeated attempts to conduct prayer
services at the Wall with men and women together, a move that
contradicts Orthodox law.
CIA will be Involved in PLO-Israel Peace Talks
By Patricia Golan (VOA-Jerusalem)
U-S Middle East envoy Dennis Ross has held more talks with Israeli
and Palestinian leaders on the third day of his peacemaking
mission. The United States is stepping up its pressure on both
sides of the conflict.
Ross has persuaded the Israelis and Palestinians to hold regular
high-level security meetings and to accept the presence of members
of the CIA at the meetings. The envoy says Americans will not
merely be onlookers, but will be actively involved in coordination
But Israeli government officials complain that Palestinian
Authority head Yasir Arafat has still not begun to crack down on
Ross has criticized the travel bans and economic punishments Israel
imposed on the Palestinians after the Jerusalem bombings July 30th.
He said measures that do not relate directly to security are
counterproductive. On Tuesday Israel began permitting farmers in
Gaza to export their produce, but the closure remains firmly in
Palestinians are unhappy that the focus of the American diplomatic
mission continues to be security, with little emphasis on political
issues in the peace process. On Tuesday thousands of angry
Palestinian demonstrators burned an effigy of the US envoy.
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