Human rights groups signed a joint letter demanding PayPal to stop denying its services on discriminatory grounds to Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), including the West Bank and Gaza.
The payment platform currently does not work or offer its services to Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza, but does operate for Israelis living in settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal by international law.
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.
Nadim Nashif, director of The Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media (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."
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According to Wafa news agency, 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.
Nadim further requests PayPal CEO, Daniel Shulmanto, to consider the fact that PayPal operates in over 200 countries, many of which could be considered far less stable than Palestine, including Somalia and Yemen. Yemen is currently engaged in a devastating civil war, while Somalia has been a war-torn country for many years.
The coalition, which includes Gaza Sky Geeks, Research at Momentum Labs and Human Rights Watch 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.