Palestinians urge PayPal to stop denying online services

Palestinians urge PayPal to stop denying online services

Rights advocates are calling once again on the world’s largest online payment system "PayPal" to stop denying its services to more than five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

PayPal currently provides full access to users in "Israel" and illegal "Israeli" settlements in the West Bank, but for years - and despite repeated requests, earlier campaigns and pressure from shareholders - has refused to offer the same in the occupied Palestinian territories.

But with growing calls from young Palestinians who want access to PayPal to earn a living; and with the employees of Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook calling earlier this year for their companies to support Palestinians, the moment is ripe for a new push, say campaigners.

On Tuesday, "7amleh", an organisation which focuses on the advancement and protection of Palestinian digital rights, and a coalition of groups sent an open letter to PayPal CEO and President Daniel Schulman, urging him to expand the company’s services and asking why illegal "Israeli" settlements are served when Palestinians are not.

They are also calling on supporters to rally online with the hashtag " #PayPal4Palestine " and will host a webinar on Thursday featuring Palestinian entrepeneurs and others who will speak about how PayPal’s policies have impacted their lives and careers.

The decision has had a significant impact on the Palestinian economy, say campaigners. Palestinians who want to buy or sell items online, or those who work remotely and could be paid through PayPal, are locked out of the system.

"7amleh" research has shown that access to PayPal would improve the lives of over 80 percent of Palestinian households, generate employment opportunities for more than 42,000 college graduates, accelerate the growth of small businesses and facilitate the work of civil society organisations that relay on crowdfunding.

Moreover and particularly for young, tech-savvy Palestinians who do not have freedom of movement and have limited employment opportunities, PayPal could significantly improve their lives.

In a statement, Nadim Nashif, executive director of "7amleh" organisation, said that this is a kind of virtual economic siege besides the physical one and that the moment that this will open, it will be a game changer for tens of thousands of young Palestinians.