sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, looks around PLO leader Yasser Arafat during a news conference at the White House in 1996.

sraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, looks around PLO leader Yasser Arafat during a news conference at the White House in 1996.

Palestinian leaders were this week hit with a £140million bill after a New York court ordered them to pay compensation for past terrorist offences.

The verdict adds a new dimension to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now that American victims have proved able to use US courts to seek damages.

Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) representatives said they would appeal the guilty verdict, after a jury found them liable for six attacks during the Second Intifada between 2002 and 2004.

It follows a lawsuit brought by 11 families of American victims of the attacks, attributed to al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas, which killed 33 people and injured more than 390 others.

“Now the PLO and the PA know there is a price for supporting terrorism,” said plaintiffs’ lawyer Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.

“It determines the responsibility of the Palestinian Authority for the murderous terrorist attacks of the previous decade,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“[But] instead of drawing the requisite lesson, the Palestinian Authority is advancing steps that endanger regional stability such as the hypocritical application to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Palestinian Deputy Information Minister Mahmoud Khalifa said it was “just the latest attempt by hard-line anti-peace factions in Israel to use and abuse the US legal system to advance their narrow political and ideological agenda”.

Palestinian authorities are already propped up by donor funding, and analysts said the ruling threatens the employment of tens of thousands of civil servants and security personnel in the West Bank.

It capped a miserable week for Palestinians on the West Bank, after a state-owned energy provider threatened to pull the plug on the territory over unpaid bills. Israel Electric Corporation cut off power to Jenin and Nablus on Monday afternoon, warning of further cuts over a NIS 1.9 billion debt.

Last month the Israeli government withheld tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians as punishment for their decision to join the ICC.