NEW YORK -- A federal appeals court has cleared the way for the extradition to Israel of a Palestinian-American accused of taking part in a machine-gun attack on a bus traveling through the occupied West Bank.

Mahmoud Abed Ahmad has been in jail since his arrest three years ago while lawyers argued over whether he could get a fair trial in Israel.

In a unanimous ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Ahmad's argument that the crime was a political act not covered by an extradition treaty with Israel.

Ahmad's lawyer, former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, said today he would seek a stay of extradition while he petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review Ahmad's case. If the high court refuses, Ahmad could be extradited, Clark said.

Ahmad, 37, who Israeli authorities sometimes refer to as Mahmoud Abed Atta, is charged with taking part in a 1986 attack in which three Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists hurled Molotov cocktails and opened fire on a bus carrying Jewish settlers. The driver was killed and a passenger injured.

Ahmad left Israel after the attack and was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in 1987 on a flight from Venezuela.