Human rights groups urge PayPal to end discriminatory policy against Palestinians

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Yumna Patel

Mondoweiss  /  October 6, 2021 

Palestinian human rights groups and international partners called out PayPal for “contributing to human rights violations and discriminatory practices against Palestinians”.

Palestinian human rights organizations are demanding that PayPal end its “discriminatory” policy that prevents Palestinians from the occupied territory from using its platform. 

In a letter to PayPal’s President and CEO, a coalition of Palestinian human rights groups and international partners, including Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, called out the company for “contributing to human rights violations and discriminatory practices against Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).”

The letter highlighted the fact that while PayPal has denied Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip access to its platform for years, it has continued to allow Israelis, including those living in illegal settlements in the oPt, to use its services. 

“PayPal runs a serious risk of contributing to salient human rights violations through the provision of services to the illegal settlements,” the letter read. 

Nadim Nashif, the director of 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media said in a statement, “Our research has shown that the Palestinian market is ready for PayPal. By excluding Palestinians from its service but allowing illegal settlers, PayPal directly emboldens the Israeli occupation and further entrenches its devastating effects on the Palestinian population and their economy.”

In the letter, the groups also expressed their dismay with PayPal’s recent decision to partner with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and organization which has, under the guise of fighting hate speech, perpetuated Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism, by “working to make advocacy for Palestinian rights synonymous with anti-Semitism,” the letter noted. 

“As a population living under prolonged military occupation Palestinians face extreme restrictions on imports, exports, and movement as a result of Israel’s discriminatory laws, policies and practices in the West Bank and more severely so in the Gaza Strip. Such practices have crippled the Palestinian economy causing de-development and limited opportunities for Palestinians to access livelihood and work opportunities,” the letter reads.

“Our research has shown that access to Paypal would improve the lives of over 80 percent of Palestinian households, generate employment opportunities for over 42,000 annual college graduates, accelerate the growth of hundreds of small businesses and startups, and facilitate the work of numerous civil society organizations that rely on crowd-funding,” it continues. 

The groups also highlighted the fact that the U.S. Treasury Department “has been working with the Palestine Monetary Authority for several years to strengthen safeguards against abuse,” and that they are “confident that the State of Palestine is capable of compliance with PayPal service’s regulatory requirements.”

“We, the undersigned organizations, call on PayPal to adhere to international law, and PayPal’s own ethical values and standards, and bring to an end discrimination against Palestinians in the oPt by making its services immediately accessible. We urge PayPal to engage directly with Palestinian stakeholders, including Palestinian civil society, to work together for sustainable solutions that adhere to international law and business responsibility standards,” the letter concluded.

 Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss