Human rights organizations have joined together to tell PayPal to stop denying its services on discriminatory grounds to Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), including the West Bank and Gaza.
The coalition has sent a letter to Paypal to request that the company brings its policies in line with international human rights law and to request that the company engages directly with Palestinian civil society representatives to work together towards a sustainable solution.
Despite international pressure, PayPal still refuses to operate in the oPt while providing full access to users in Israel and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. 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.
Palestinians rely on digital accessibility for economic development and access to the global economy. The ability to use digital payment platforms is crucial for Palestinian entrepreneurs, businesses, and freelancers, to access regional and international customers.
Nadim Nashif, Director of 7amleh, which defends Palestinian digital rights, said, “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.”
PayPal claims that its policy against Palestinians is based on its “Prohibited Countries” policy which labels Palestine and other countries as “High Risk and Conflict-Affected Areas,” in which PayPal has no ability to operate. However, Palestine has already implemented the regulatory frameworks necessary for accessing electronic payment systems. This includes the “Electronic Transactions Law” which facilitates electronic transactions and establishes measures to combat money laundering and fraud.
PayPal’s policy contributes to the Israeli campaign of delegitimization and de-platforming of Palestinian civil society and businesses. Furthermore, the request of the human rights organizations is in line with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights guidance on the rights and obligations of business enterprises under international humanitarian law. The guiding principles warn that if a “business finds (either through its own due diligence or other means) that it has caused or contributed to an adverse human rights impact, it has a responsibility to actively engage in remediation, either by itself or in cooperation with other actors”
The coalition called on the international community to condemn PayPal’s discriminatory policies and to join Palestinians in this campaign to pressure PayPal to extend its services to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.