'Hamas-licensed bank opens in Gaza'

PA says Islamic National Bank established illegally, as such won't have access to W. Bank, int'l funds.

gaza bank 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
gaza bank 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Islamic National Bank opened its doors for business on Wednesday, reportedly marking the establishment of the first Hamas-licensed bank in the Gaza Strip. According to a Reuters report, the Islamic group claimed that it would not control the bank, though the Palestinian Authority had voiced doubt that this was the case. The director of funds and investments for the bank, Mohammed Ghanem, was quoted in the report as saying that the institution had a starting capital of $20 million, provided by businessmen in the Strip. He said the bank would provide loans among its services. The Ramallah-based Palestine Monetary Authority (PMA) reportedly claimed that the bank was illegal according to Palestinian law. If this proves to be the case, the institution will not have access to funds in the West Bank or the international banking system. Ghanem was quoted by Reuters as saying, "The [PMA] informed banks not to deal with us but we are willing to deal with any local bank, and in the future we hope to be able to deal with local and outside banks." The bank's chairman, Ala Rafati, stated that the Islamic National Bank would pay a proportion of Hamas officials' salaries in the coming week.