December 1, 2020

Visa, Mastercard called upon to cut ties with Palestinian terror funding

Mastercard and Visa have been warned to immediately cut ties with banks operating in the West Bank or risk legal liability for funding terror. They have also been advised not to provide services for a new bank being set up by the Palestinian Authority, as it is being created explicitly for the purpose of continued terror funding. Since its creation in 1994, the PA has paid monthly salaries to terrorists and the families of killed terrorists in so called ‘pay for slay’ payments. These payments to date have been processed through banks operating in the PA controlled territory. However, recent Israeli anti-terror legislation which applies to the PA-controlled areas in the West Bank prohibits, inter alia, any bank transaction that funds, promotes, assists, or rewards the performance of an act of terror.Following the law change in May, banks in the West Bank initially moved to close terrorists’ accounts to avoid vulnerability to criminal and civil proceedings, but have since been leaned on by the PA to keep them open until a new bank owned by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) can be created to handle the payments. This option was chosen over an alternative solution of transferring the accounts to the PA Postal Bank, as that bank cannot provide credit. NGO Palestinian Media Watch (PMW)┬áhave pointed out that the decision to create a new bank suggests the PLO will seek to use the services of Mastercard and Visa in providing credit to terrorists, in contravention of the law. “To date, credit card companies have avoided liability for providing financial support to terrorists by hiding behind banks who are held to high standards,” Maurice Hirsch, PMW director of legal strategies told The Jerusalem Post. PMW have acknowledged that when Mastercard and Visa agreed to offer credit services to banks operating in areas under PA control, they may have been unaware that those banks were facilitating terror funding, nor that they were offering those credit services to known terrorists. However, PMW has now notified and warned both companies of the terror supporting operations of these banks. PMW also explained the necessity for them to cut all financial ties.”The banks operating in the Palestinian Authority clearly flout the internationally recognized and accepted anti-terror standards. Having been notified of the support the banks in the Palestinian Authority provide to terror and terrorists, Mastercard and Visa must act quickly to avoid opening the Pandora’s box of liability,” Hirsch told the Post. Itamar Marcus Director of PMW added: “Credit card companies have been supplying services for years to Palestinian banks that the PA uses to reward terrorists. We will never know if the credit card companies are aware that they are involved in terror financing, are guilty of willful blindness, or are truly unaware. However, now that PMW has notified the credit card companies of the Palestinian banks’ involvement in rewarding terror, we fully expect the credit card companies to curtail all services to these Palestinian banks.” PMW has called upon Mastercard and Visa to immediately cut ties with all the banks operating in the PA until such time as they are certain that these banks do not provide any services to known terrorists. Similarly, given that the PA’s new bank is being created explicitly to fund terror, PMW has called upon the two companies to avoid – “like the plague” – any financial cooperation with the new entity.

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