Palestinian Prime Minister Says Banks Won’t Abide by Israeli Order in Prisoner Funds Dispute

New regulation means banks can be punished for involvement in providing funds paid by the PA to prisoners, but the banks have decided not to cooperate

Jack Khoury
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A Palestinian woman holds a portrait of a relative being held in an Israeli jail in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Gaza City, October 2019.
A Palestinian woman holds a portrait of a relative being held in an Israeli jail in front of the International Committee of the Red Cross, in Gaza City, October 2019.Credit: AP Photo/ Hatem Moussa, File
Jack Khoury

Palestinian banks have decided not to close the accounts of Palestinians released from Israeli prisons and their families despite a new Israeli regulation, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Friday.

The decision was made after talks over the past two days between Shtayyeh and bank managers after a new regulation was implemented that states that anyone “dealing in assets” for the purpose of abetting, promoting, funding or rewarding acts of terror can be sentenced to up to seven years in jail.

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This means that liability for the funds the Palestinian Authority transfers to prisoners and their families falls not just on the recipients, but on the banks that receive them and their employees. Following these talks, the banks agreed to take a uniform stance and refuse to shut the accounts.

According to Shtayyeh, starting on Sunday prisoners’ families will be able to use their accounts as usual and the Palestinian Authority will continue to transfer funds to them.

To date, Israel has never taken action against a bank, as Palestinians convicted in Israel of terror-related offenses have accounts there. Defense Minister Naftali Bennett recently signed his first order confiscating money transferred by the PA to Israeli citizens in a similar situation, but that order targeted the account owners, not the banks.

Overnight Thursday, a bank in Jenin that announced it would have to close the accounts where the PA deposits the stipends was shot at, damaging the building.

There are 13 banks operating in the areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Seven of them are Palestinian-owned, while five are Jordanian-owned and one is Egyptian-owned.

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