Anti-Israel group’s bank account shut by Co-op
THECO-OPERATIVEBankhasrevealed it closed the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s account because of fears that moneycouldinadvertentlybefunnelled to illegal groups in Gaza.
Following due diligence checks on the anti-Israel group’s account, the bank said it was not satisfied that it would not be used to aid proscribed activities in the Palestinian territories.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign launched a legal case against the bank this week and claimed the closure amounted to “discrimination”.
A statement released by the PSC on Tuesday revealed that at least 20 groups pursuing anti-Israel campaigns had been affected. Accounts were closed last month by the bank, or access to funding was denied.
In a statement the following day the bank said it was committed to supporting charities, but needed to perform due diligence checks on customers, their accounts and payments. It must “ensure the bank complies with antimoney laundering obligations and to manage the bank’s risk”.
Customers who send money to “very high-risk or high-risk locations throughout the world” required advanced checks, the bank said, “to ensure that funds do not inadvertently fund illegal or other proscribed activities”.
The bank said it would continue to assist with a range of donations to Gaza through groups including Médecins Sans Frontières, Amnesty, and Oxfam.
Lawyers for the PSC had claimed the Co-op had breached equality legislation by targeting the group because of its “cogent belief in Palestinian rights”.
“A decision based on active support of Palestinian causes — or on the nationality or religion of the Palestinian people —wouldbediscriminatory,”astatement from the ITN law firm in London said.
PSC director Sarah Colborne urged PSC members to move their personal accounts from the Co-op. She said supporters were “angry and disappointed at the Co-operative Bank which has turned its back on the ethical principles which drew so many of us to open accounts there in the first place”.
The Co-op angered Israel supporters in 2012 when its supermarket arm extended a boycott policy against Israel to include a bar on any engagement with Israeli suppliers that worked with West Bank settlements.
PSC branches across the country had lobbied the Co-op for the ban and supported the measures taken against Israel.
A number of British-based Muslim groups claimed the HSBC bank had closed their accounts last year because of their attempts to raise funds for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.
Fears that money could inadvertly fund illegal activities