The Bank of Ireland, the country’s oldest financial institution, closed the accounts of the pro-Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions organization’s Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in late September. The group’s accounts were terminated in Ireland and Northern Ireland, according to a report Sunday in the Irish news outlet RTÉ.
A spokesman for the Bank of Ireland wrote The Jerusalem Post on Monday saying that they “cannot comment in relation to customer accounts.”
According to RTÉ, the PSC said the bank closed its accounts because it defined transfers to Palestinian territories as high-risk. The PSC said it transfers funds to a factory in the West Bank that produces Palestinian scarves that the PSC buys to promote solidarity, wrote RTÉ.
The PSC had held accounts at the Bank of Ireland for 15 years.
The Irish pro-Palestinian group opened a new account with the Allied Irish Banks (AIB). A Post query to the AIB was not immediately returned on Monday.
According to RTÉ, the PSC believes it is vulnerable to a new closure.
Post media queries to the PSC in Ireland were also not immediately returned. The AIB and the Bank of Ireland are considered to be part of the “Big Four” Irish financial organizations. PSC also maintains a PayPal account.
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The SPC branch in Ireland is a hardcore BDS group targeting the Jewish state.
According to its website it has launched campaigns to force divestment from Israel’s Mashav (the Foreign Ministry’s Agency for International Development Cooperation) and started a letter campaign from more than 215 Irish artists to boycott Israel. The PSC website wrote it seeks to “support the awareness-raising to expose the contamination of the global diamond market with Israeli ‘blood diamonds.”’ In addition to the PSC’s call to boycott Israeli products, it aims to create an “Apartheid- Free Zone” in Ireland where Israeli goods are ostracized.
The organization wrote that the late Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres is an “unpunished war criminal and apologist for apartheid.”
The closure of the PSC account appears to be part of a larger trend within the European banking system to sever ties with pro-BDS groups.
RTÉ wrote, “It [closure of the PSC account] follows similar decisions in other European countries including Austria, Germany, France and the UK where banks have closed down accounts of Palestinian campaign groups.”
Ireland is considered one of the strongholds of BDS activity in Western Europe. The termination of the SPC could result in growing financial actions to end relationships with pro-BDS groups.
The Post reported first on the closures of bank accounts in France, Germany and Austria in 2016.
Commerzbank, Germany’s second largest bank, shut a BDS account in June. The Austrian bank Bawag shut down the account of the Austria-Arab Culture Center, which had hosted convicted Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled, who participated in the 1969 hijacking of a TWA jet. A year later, she helped hijack EL AL flight 219. Khaled was in Europe as part of a speaking tour. The Austria-Arab Culture Center advocates BDS.
In May, PayPal and Credit Mutuel pulled the plug on their accounts with BDS France. The Austrian financial company Erste Group terminated BDS Austria’s account in April. The French banking giant BNP Paribas shut down its subsidiary DAB bank account with BDS-Campaign in February in Munich. A subsidiary of Paribas in Brussels (BNP Paribas Fortis) appears to hold a BDS account.
Malka Nusynowicz, a spokeswoman for the parent BNP in Paris, told the Post last month ”the bank never comments on any alleged client-relationships for obvious confidentiality rules reasons.”
Hans Mariën, the head of public relations and press for BNP Paribas Fortis in Brussels, told the Post that he cannot comment because of bank privacy rules.
The Belgium-based BDS group that holds a Paribas account is called Association Belgo-Palestinienne (BNP). It has an office in New York State where Gov. Andrew Coumo signed an anti-BDS executive order in June. He said at the time: “If you boycott against Israel, New York will boycott you.”
Eric Soufer, a spokesman for New York State Attorney- General Eric Schneiderman, wrote the Post in September saying that “the attorney-general vehemently opposes any effort to single out Israel for an economic boycott.” BNP Paribas paid the US government a record fine of nearly $9 billion in 2015 for Iran, Cuba and Sudan sanctions violations.
German banks maintain scores of BDS accounts.
Stephanie Rüth, a spokeswoman for the Bank für Sozialwirtschaft (Bank for Social Economy), told the Post
recently that the bank is investigating a BDS account.
The Bank for Social Economy holds accounts for the largest Jewish community in Germany in Berlin and for the Central Welfare Board of Jews in Germany. The Stuttgart-based Baden-Württembergische Bank (BW), which has an office in New York City, has vehemently rejected a closure of its pro- BDS account with the group Palestine Committee Stuttgart.
The BW also holds an account for the local neo-Nazi NPD party, which calls for a complete boycott of Israel.
When asked about the bank account information listed on the website of the Bonnbased pro-BDS group Institut für Palästinakunde (IPK), Silvia Annecke, a spokeswoman for the VR-Bank Altenburger in Germany, said “because of existing bank privacy we cannot issue information.”
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