Klinghoffer family settles long legal battle with PLO

Sign up for Weekday J and get the latest on what's happening in the Jewish Bay Area.

NEW YORK — The relatives of Leon Klinghoffer, a disabled passenger killed by Palestinian terrorists aboard an Italian cruise ship 12 years ago, have closed a long and painful chapter of their lives by agreeing to settle a lawsuit with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

According to a family spokeswoman, the sum was not disclosed, as was stipulated by the settlement.

The PLO also settled with Crown Travel, the New Jersey tour operator that booked the fateful cruise.

The attack on Klinghoffer, whose body was thrown off the Achille Lauro into the Mediterranean Sea, for years exemplified the scourge of random violence emanating from the Mideast conflict.

"Terrorism is a horror and sometimes it becomes impersonal," said Kenneth Jacobson, ADL's director of international affairs, who has worked closely with the family.

"The Achille Lauro affair and the tragedy of Leon Klinghoffer became a symbol, a specific focus of the horror of terrorism, and seemed to stay in people's minds," he said.

The lawsuit originally was filed by Klinghoffer's widow, Marilyn, who died not long after her husband's murder.

The case and a broader fight against terrorism was pursued relentlessly by the couple's two daughters, Ilsa and Lisa.

A tentative settlement between the family and the PLO in 1986 broke down. That settlement would have created an institute of peace studies that, according to a letter signed at the time, "would memorialize the tragic death of Leon Klinghoffer as well as other victims of violence."

The PLO has maintained that the attack was carried out by renegade members of the organization and it apparently has admitted no wrongdoing in the current settlement.