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2 Jan, 2016

US Sued over Billions of Tax-Exempt Donations for Illegal Israeli Settlements

RAMALLAH, December 31, 2015 (WAFA) – A lawsuit has been filed in a US court seeking to stop US-based non-profit entities from sending billions of dollars of tax-exempt donations for illegal Israeli settlements and Israeli military.

The lawsuit was filed by Martin McMahon and Associates on behalf of Arab—American plaintiffs, including Palestinian American writer Susan Abulhawa, on December 21 against the US Department of Treasury, claiming about 150 non-profits have sent an estimated $280bn to Israel over the past two decades.

The lawsuit claims, according to AlJazeera report, the donations were ‘pass-throughs’ and ‘funnels’ to support the Israeli army and the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“For at least 30 years, perhaps more, Treasury officials have turned a blind eye towards the criminal conduct that approximately 100 U.S. pro-Israeli-settlement 501(c)(3)s have either funded or engaged in.”

“These entities have been the primary source of funding to expand settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and East Jerusalem, and in the process, have financed ethnic cleansing, theft of private property, and malicious property destruction,” the lawsuit said.

“Because of that funding, tens of thousands of Palestinians have had their homes either confiscated or demolished by settlers armed with sophisticated military hardware purchased with funds coming from these U.S. tax-exempt entities.”

“The settlers use the military hardware to threaten and intimidate their Palestinian neighbors, in some cases murdering them, hoping that they will abandon their homes and olive groves,” it added.

Sheldon Adelson, an American casino magnate, and several other wealthy pro-Israeli businessmen were named in the lawsuit as donors, but not as defendants.

“These entities and donors have also engaged in money laundering and malicious destruction and theft of private property,” the lawsuit added.

The plaintiffs, according to the lawsuit, require the Treasury and its divisions to “investigate the criminal activities that these tax-exempt entities have been funding or engaging in for the last 20 years.”

Explaining her rationale for joining the lawsuit, Abulhawa said: “I want a court, somewhere, somehow, to hold accountable those who have financed my pain of dispossession and exile; to hold accountable the financiers of Israel’s wholesale theft of another people’s historic, material, spiritual, and emotional presence in the world.”

McMahon said the US Department of Treasury should not just end the tax exemption, but should also recoup hundreds of millions of dollars in back taxes.

‘The lawsuit seeks to hold accountable the tax-exempt entities by revoking their nonprofit status,’ McMahon told Al Jazeera.

The lawsuit said: ‘These charities’ agenda is to rid the West Bank and EJ [East Jerusalem] of all non-Jews, consistent with perceived biblical imperatives. They have been very successful in that endeavour, as detailed herein, primarily because of the Treasury’s abject and long-standing failure to monitor and prevent their criminal activities for at least the last 30 years.’

The lawsuit names groups including the Falic Family Foundation, FIDF (Friends of the Israeli Defence Force), American Friends of Ariel, Gush Etzion Foundation, American Friends of Har Homa, and Hebron Fund.

The Treasury Department has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.