Watch CBS News

Palestinian American Lawsuit Targets Philanthropists, Corporations Backing Israel Settlements

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison and Palo Alto-based Hewlett Packard Enterprise are among those named in a $34.5 billion civil lawsuit filed this week on behalf of Palestinian Americans against a number of businessmen, philanthropists and corporations helping fund the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The complaint, filed Monday on behalf of activist Bassem Al-Tamimi and other Palestinians in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges the individuals and entities have been "funding violent settlement activities in occupied Palestine," according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

It alleges that violations by the defendants include civil conspiracy, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide as well as aggravated and ongoing trespassing, violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and alleges the war crime of pillage in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

The lawsuit filed by Martin F. McMahon & Associates, attorneys representing the plaintiffs also names real estate firm Re/Max and Silicon Valley giant Hewlett Packard Enterprise as a defendants.

A spokesman for Hewlett Packard Enterprise said in a statement: "Hewlett Packard Enterprise is strongly committed to socially responsible business practices, and our work and products in Israel are consistent with our values and standards. It is not our policy to take sides in political disputes between countries or regions, and we believe the claims in this lawsuit are without merit."

CBS San Francisco requests for comment from Oracle, and Re/Max were not immediately returned.

In 2013, then-U.N. special envoy Richard Folk said that all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem were illegal and European and U.S. investors may in part be responsible.

Folk told members of the U.N. General Assembly that Re/Max, as well as European company Dexia Group, were tied to the settlement activity.

"Financial institutions and real estate companies may be held criminally accountable for their involvement with illegal settlements in occupied Palestine," Folk said in 2013.

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, philanthropist Irving Moskowitz, and Israeli-American media executive Haim Saban were also among those named in the complaint.

Former California resident Dr. Irving Moskowitz, the complaint alleges "for the last 40 years, openly advocated the violent expulsion of all non-Jews from the OPT" and "has been instrumental in transferring large sums of money to settlements in the OPT."

The suit also states that Moskowitz, a well-known businessman, engaged in money-laundering as a result of transferring about $100 million across international borders to fund arms trafficking and acts of violence against Palestinians.

The complaint also names defendants Motorola, Volvo, and Nordstrom, as well as Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories, an Israeli cosmetics company that manufactures skin care products made of mud and mineral-based compounds from the Dead Sea.

Numerous tax-exempt organizations, such as Friends of the Israeli Army and Christian Friends of Israeli Communities, are also named in the complaint for allegedly providing financial assistance to fund the growth of Israeli settlements.

The plaintiffs allege that the Israeli settlements now house 750,000 permanent residents and have pushed out 400,000 Palestinians in 49,000 homes and led to the destruction of 900,000 olive trees.

They say these settlements are a "direct result of the funding provided by U.S. donors and tax-exempt entities."

By Hannah Albarazi - Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.