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  • HSBC has a record of closing down accounts without explanation.

    HSBC has a record of closing down accounts without explanation. | Photo: AFP

Published 27 April 2020
Opinion

The bank gave no reasons to explain a decision that comes as a blow to Interpal because it has been announced during Ramadan when Muslims usually increase their donations.

British bank HSBC informed customers in the United Kingdom (U.K.) that it will stop processing standing orders for donations to the Palestinian aid group Interpal staring May 17, Middle East Eye reported Monday.

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The bank gave no reasons to explain a decision that comes as a blow to Interpal because it has been announced during Ramadan when Muslims usually increase their donations.

"It is disappointing that a major bank would do this during Ramadan, which is so important for donors and our beneficiaries. But also during the coronavirus pandemic. No reason has been given, neither to the donors nor the charity. That is quite astonishing," chairman of the board of trustees of Interpal Ibrahim Hewitt told MEE.

"The people we help are ordinary people struggling under siege to find the basic necessities for ordinary life."

It is not the first time that HSBC, one of the world's largest banks, has decided to close down accounts without explanation, including those of prominent Muslim customers, organizations, and community leaders.

“As part of a global bank, sometimes we may decide to prevent certain transactions, even if they are allowed under local laws. We recognize that some people may be disappointed with this decision, and we’re sorry for any inconvenience it may cause,” an HSBC U.K. spokesperson said.

MEE reporters asked the bank what reasons it had for taking such action and whether Interpal had made any specific action bringing on this decision. They also asked why this decision was being announced in Ramadan, but they did not receive any response.

Interpal was founded in 1994. It is described by the U.K. Charity Commission as “one of the leading British charities focusing on providing relief and development aid to Palestinians” in the West Bank, Gaza, and in refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan.

The organization has faced similar situations in the past.

Last year, U.K. Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), a pro-Israel lobbying group, claimed a role in the withdrawal of Interpal’s BT MyDonate and JustGiving services, and the withdrawal of credit card services.

UKLFI’s actions against Interpal were based on the United States (U.S.) Treasury designation of Interpal as a terrorist organization in 2003, following charges that the group supported Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement designated by the EU and U.S. as a terrorist group.

The U.K. Charity Commission investigated Interpal after the U.S. allegations and on two other occasions. Each time, it cleared the group of all accusations of illegal activity.

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