UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

Interpal’s future in doubt

Interpal may no longer be able to continue as a going concern, and has no bank account, according to its 2019 Independent Auditor’s report. The Trustees of the charity, which provides aid to Palestinians, also consider that the loss of credit card processing services and access to banking facilities may affect its ability to continue as a going concern.

Interpal’s 2019 Annual Report and Financial Statements were filed with the Charity Commission on 30 October 2020, and reveal that its total income for 2019 amounted to £5,542,114, compared to £7,037,490 in 2018. The Trustees comment in the Report that this “significant decrease of income from the previous year can be attributed to the loss of credit card facilities.”

 The filing reveals that Interpal no longer has a bank account. The Independent Auditor’s Report to the Trustees, under a section headed “Material uncertainty related to going concern” (at page 22) says

without a bank account, the charity’s ability to receive donations is extremely restricted and this inhibits the charity to achieve its full objectives as stated in the Trust Deed. The charity intends to continue in operation despite the account closure by fundamentally changing its operation structure, however it is uncertain whether this will be a viable option for the charity.”

Donors have faced increasing difficulty in donating to Interpal since 2018.  BT’s MyDonate fundraising platform removed Interpal’s fundraising pages in August 2018 and credit cards removed Interpal’s facilities in October 2018.

This was as a result of letters from UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) pointing out to these organisations that Interpal was designated as a terrorist entity by the USA in August 2003 and that it would contravene the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations if they were to continue to provide financial services to Interpal.

Interpal is listed in the USA as a Specially Designated National (SDN), and subject to the US Global Terrorism Sanctions Regulations set out in  31 C.F.R. part 594.  Therefore no US person (which includes US multinational organisations) may engage in any transaction with Interpal or provide services to it.

Following correspondence from UKLFI, Give as you Live and Everyclick dropped Interpal in February 2019, Just Giving removed Interpal’s fundraising pages from its platform in February 2019 and Facebook blocked Interpal’s donations in March 2019.

In April 2020 UKLFI wrote to banks which subsequently led to Interpal no longer being able to receive donations by cheque, standing order or bank transfer.  UKLFI also wrote to mobile phone companies to remind them of the OFAC regulations, and this resulted in donations by SMS being withdrawn

Since May 2020, Interpal’s website has stated that donations may be made by cash or by contacting Interpal for other methods.

Interpal’s Trustees comment in the 2019 Report that “the impact of the 2003 designation [by USA]  continued to cause major challenges for Interpal and this was further exacerbated by actions taken by anti-Palestinian interest groups working to malign and prevent organisations working for Palestinians. Anti- Palestinian groups were very active in their targeting of NGOs and advocacy groups working for Palestinian human rights in 2019. Interpal’s online donation facilities had already been withdrawn in 2018 as a result of external lobby group pressures on banks and third-party financial institutions, reflecting the sector’s increasing trend towards more risk-averse behaviour.”

 Interpal has been listed as a terrorist entity in the USA since 22 August 2003, when it was described by the US Department of the Treasury 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 denies involvement with or support for terrorism.

Interpal is also listed in the Schedule to Canada’s list of terrorist organisations in its Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Suppression of Terrorism.

Interpal has been on Australia’s consolidated list of persons and entities subject to targeted financial sanctions for its links to Hamas 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.