The federal government is moving closer toward intervening in a high-stakes civil case over Palestinian terror attacks in the early 2000s that killed or wounded Americans.

A jury in New York last February awarded the victims $218.5 million in damages, a penalty lawyers say would be automatically tripled.

Representatives from the Justice and State departments met Tuesday with plaintiffs in the case to discuss a likely "statement of interest" the government plans to file.

The statement would urge a judge to keep in mind that heavy bond payments could put the Palestinian Authority on shaky financial ground and weaken the group's ability to govern.

A lawyer for the victims has encouraged the government to stay out of the dispute and not do anything to undermine the judgment in the case.