Britain’s leading anti-Israel organization has had its bank accounts closed, after it was revealed it may have been “inadvertently” funding Palestinian terrorism.
The radical Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) – which counts UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as one of its patrons was informed by the Co-operative Bank that its accounts were being closed due to the “high risk” destinations of its funds, many of which are donated to Hamas-linked agencies and other extremist groups in Gaza, Judea and Samaria.
The PSC needed to conduct “advanced due diligence checks” on their accounts to assuage fears they were funding “illegal or other proscribed activities,” the statement read, but concluded that it was “not possible to complete these checks to our satisfaction and the decision to close a number of accounts, including the PSC and some of its affiliates, is an inevitable result of this process.”
As noted in the statement, apart from the central PSC organization’s accounts, some 20 additional accounts belonging to affiliated organizations – including local PSC chapters across the UK – were also shut down.
In response, the PSC has said it will launch legal proceedings against the Co-operative Bank, accusing it of “discrimination.”
According to a statement by the group’s lawyers: “Our clients have been refused banking services, without any reason or an opportunity to provide representations… It appears that the decision was taken because of PSC’s support for Palestine.
A decision based on active support of Palestinian causes – or on the nationality or religion of the Palestinian people – would be discriminatory. It is in the wider public interest to ensure that banks are held to account for their decision making processes; a bank cannot be above the law by virtue of its status.”
The controversy is particularly ironic, however, given that the Co-operative Group had until now been something of a favorite for pro-Palestinian activists, after it caved into pressure – primarily from the PSC – to enact a boycott of Israeli goods in its supermarket chain.
In an added twist, the PSC’s leadership has called on supporters to close their accounts in Co-operative branches, and several local PSC chapters have launched an all-out boycott campaign against the Co-operative – despite it already boycotting Israeli goods.
But despite the PSC’s claims of “discrimination,” other campaigners have pointed out that the bank was clearly acting out of legitimate professional – not political – concerns.
The PSC has long hosted members of Hamas and other Islamist terrorist groups as speakers, and has been associated with a wide variety of anti-Semitic and homophobic extremists from the far-left to the far-right.
Tom Wilson, a resident associate fellow at the Henry Jackson Society think tank, told: “The Co-op has highlighted the due diligence that it must show regarding the accounts of groups operating in ‘high risk locations’, of which Gaza and the West Bank would certainly be included.
“Among the concerns a bank would have in these kinds of cases will likely be fears about funding reaching illegal, extremist or terrorist activities.
“The PSC claim that this is an act of discrimination seems particularly unconvincing given the support we’ve seen the Co-op give for the Palestinian campaign in the past.”