UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Interpal loses Bank Transfer, Standing Order, Cheques and SMS donations

It appears that Interpal can no longer receive donations by bank transfer, standing order, cheque or text message (SMS).  This follows representations by UKLFI to banks and to the four mobile network operators in the UK, pointing out that although Interpal is a Charity operating under the auspices of the English Charity Commission, it is listed as a designated terrorist organisation in several other countries including the USA.

The only options for donations now offered by Interpal in its website are payment by cash, or contacting them regarding “other donation methods”. Interpal has removed details of its bank, Al Rayan Bank, from its website and has also removed an option of payment by SMS which had appeared after standing orders were stopped.

If any of the banks or mobile network companies have a US, Canadian or Australian operation, then they are likely to be affected by the anti-terrorism legislation of those countries,  which prevents them from providing services to or receiving money from Interpal.

The Palestinians Relief and Development Fund (known as Interpal) is a regulated charity no 1040094 in England and Wales.  Interpal’s activities involve  providing aid to Palestinians in  the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In the USA Interpal has been listed by the US Department of the Treasury as a Specially Designated National (SDN) since 22 August 2003, when it was described as follows:

Interpal, headquartered in the UK, has been a principal charity utilized to hide the flow of money to HAMAS. Reporting indicates it is the conduit through which money flows to HAMAS from other charities, e.g.,the Al Aqsa Foundation (designated under EO 13224 on May 29th) and oversees the activities of other charities. For example, the Sanabil Association for Relief and Development (designated as part of this tranche), represents Interpal in Lebanon.  Reporting indicates that Interpal is the fundraising coordinator of HAMAS.  This role is of the type that includes supervising activities of charities, developing new charities in targeted areas, instructing how funds should be transferred from one charity to another, and even determining public relations policy.”

Interpal is included in a US Treasury list of “Designated Charities and Potential Fundraising Front Organizations for FTOs (Foreign Terrorist Organisation) under the heading “HAMAS-related designations”.

Interpal denies involvement with or support for terrorism.  It is possible to request removal from the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions list, including the SDN List by writing to OFAC and requesting removal,  and submitting arguments or evidence that establishes that an insufficient basis exists for the listing. However, Interpal has not obtained its removal from the OFAC sanctions list since its designation on 23 August 2003.

Interpal is also listed in the Schedule to Canada’s list Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Suppression of Terrorism.   The Regulations state that an entity is listed in the Schedule if the Governor in Council is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that it:

(a) has carried out, attempted to carry out, participated in or facilitated the carrying out of a terrorist activity;

(b) is controlled directly or indirectly by any person conducting any of the activities set out in paragraph (a); or

(c) is acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, or in association with any person conducting any of the activities set out in paragraph (a).

The Regulations also state that any listed person may apply in writing to the Minister to request to be removed from the schedule, and on receipt of a written application, the Minister shall decide whether there are reasonable grounds to recommend to the Governor in Council that the applicant be removed from the schedule. Interpal remains on the list, despite the possibility that it may apply to be removed.

Interpal has been on Australia’s consolidated list for its affiliation to terrorism since 21 November 2003. This designation was renewed for a further three years on 7 November 2019.

Interpal was declared an “Unlawful Association” in Israel on 6 May 1997, and declared a Terror Organisation for its affiliation with Hamas on 27 January 1998.

The recent removal of Interpal’s fundraising facilities via bank transfer, cheques, standing orders and SMS text messages follows Facebook blocking Interpal’s donations in March 2019, Give as you Live and Everyclick dropping Interpal in February 2019, Just Giving removing Interpal’s fundraising pages from its platform in February 2019, Credit cards removing Interpal’s facility in October 2018  and BT’s MyDonate removing Interpal’s fundraising pages in August 2018.

Caroline Turner, director of UKLFI commented: “The banks and mobile network operators may be in breach of anti-terrorism legislation in the US and elsewhere if they provide services to Interpal, even if it is not their direct client. This has been the case since around 2003, but it seems that it is only now that these organisations have acted.”