Campaign calls on PayPal to provide service to Palestinians
Human rights groups have launched a campaign to call on the global online payments company PayPal to end what they call "digital discrimination" against Palestinians in the occupied territories.
The Palestinian human rights group 7amleh, also known as the Arab Centre for Social Media Advancement, says that PayPal has denied its services to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip while providing full access to Israeli settlers living illegally in the West Bank.
Several other activist groups, including Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Gaza Sky Geeks, the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD), and Jewish Voice for Peace have joined 7amleh in calling for PayPal's services to be extended to Palestinians.
The groups said that while PayPal justified its policy by categorising Palestine and other countries as "high risk and conflict-affected", the Palestinian Authority had already implemented regulatory frameworks necessary to access electronic payment systems, including an "Electronic Transactions Law" which provides measures to stop money laundering and fraud.
"The ability to use digital payment platforms is crucial for Palestinian entrepreneurs, businesses, and freelancers, to access regional and international customers," a statement from 7amleh said.
"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."
7amleh’s director Nadim Nashif accused PayPal of indirectly supporting Israel's occupation of the West Bank through this measure.
"By allowing illegal Israeli settlers to use its services and not Palestinians, the platform is discriminating against Palestinians and contributing to human rights violations, such as upholding the Israeli occupation and contributing to de-development of the Palestinian economy," he told The New Arab.
7amleh said that its campaign to pressure PayPal was consistent with UN guidelines on how international businesses should operate.
It quoted the guidelines of the UN’s Working Group on Business and Human Rights as saying 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".
Nadim Nashif added that PayPal’s actions had a direct impact on the Palestinian economy.
"Access to Paypal would improve unemployment rates in the [Palestinian territories] and allow Palestinian freelancers and entrepreneurs to access the global economy. We believe PayPal must stop excluding Palestinians and should engage with us directly to create a fairer, more inclusive policy in the region," he said.
Nashif also pointed out that PayPal operated in many areas of the world where the security situation was far less stable than in the Palestinian territories, such as Yemen and Somalia.
The New Arab has reached out to PayPal regarding its policy in the Palestinian territories.