PayPal is one of the most popular methods of making online payments as well as it’s one of the only two methods almost available to us in besieged Gaza Strip.
Actually, PayPal is allowed for Palestinians, but it’s allowed for the Israeli settlers in our occupied lands in 1948. As we live in Palestine, we can use it only through international visa cards, but we can’t link our bank accounts directly to PayPal.
Why are Israeli settlers allowed to use PayPal?
PayPal is available for all Israeli citizens, even to Israeli settlers residing in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. The Israeli government makes no distinction between Israel and Israeli settlements in the West Bank, treats settlements as part of Israel, and applies Israeli civil law to its citizens residing or traveling through the oPt. Palestinians in the oPt – with the exception of East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed and applied its civil law in violation of international law – are ruled under Israel’s military regime.
Israeli settlements, regardless of their status under Israeli law, are illegal under international humanitarian law, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.
By providing financial services in Israeli settlements, PayPal is not only benefiting from Israel’s discriminatory policies and serious human rights abuses and international law violations, but they risk contributing to these violations while sustaining the settlements and help them grow economically.
Unlike Israeli settlers, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip cannot have Israeli Bank accounts. While PayPal operates normally for users with Israeli bank accounts, it refuses to offer its services for users with accounts in Palestinian banks.
Providing Israeli settlers with its services, while denying the same service to Palestinians living in the same territory, PayPal’s policy appears to be based on national or ethnic origin identity rather than location. The discriminatory element of the policy is also evident, especially considering that Palestinians in recent years have successfully demonstrated their economic, legal, and social readiness to access and start using digital payment services.8
Why does it matter if Palestinians can’t use PayPal?
Israel’s military occupation and its discriminatory policies have resulted in devastating impacts on the Palestinian economy and its poor performance, as the movement of people and goods is severely restricted. As the Palestinian economy suffers under numerous Israeli restrictions, accessibility to online platforms has become more essential for Palestinians to access livelihood and work opportunities and participate in the development of their economy. The right to access online platforms is regarded as a universal human right, that must be enjoyed without discrimination. It is fundamental that access to the Internet is widely available and accessible for all, including vulnerable and marginalized groups and isolated communities.
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