British Telecom’s MyDonate has withdrawn funding facilities from a Palestinian charity accused of having links to terrorist group, Hamas.
This week, UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) wrote to Visa and Mastercard, the credit card companies linked to My Donate, pointing out that Interpal, which has previously been backed by Jeremy Corbyn, is designated as a foreign terrorist organisation in the US.
The UK Charity Commission allows Interpal to operate here legally.
The request also stated that Interpal is listed as a terrorism financing entity in Canada and is included on Australia’s consolidated list of organisations subject to targeted financial sanctions.
BT runs MyDonate, a not-for-profit online fundraising service for UK charities, as part of its community service.
Interpal had a large presence on MyDonate, promoting several fundraising campaigns and was particularly reliant on the service since its direct credit card donation facilities had been stopped.
A BT spokesperson said: “BT’s MyDonate service is a valuable fund-raising platform for over 14,000 charities, allowing individuals to quickly and easily donate to their charity of choice.
“We can confirm that we have been obliged to remove Interpal from the list of charitable organisations able to receive donations via our MyDonate platform, due to Interpal’s status as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organisation under US law and in order to protect the fund-raising ability of the many charities that depend on our service.
“We have contacted Interpal directly to notify them and to explain the reasons for our decision.”
An Interpal spokesperson told Jewish News: “Interpal is a British, UK-registered charity which has a long history of providing humanitarian and emergency relief to Palestinians in desperate need, for which it has been commended by politicians on all sides of the Houses of Parliament, fellow aid agencies and the UN Relief and Works Agency, with whom it is regarded as a valued partner.
“The Charity Commission has investigated and cleared Interpal with regard to false allegations, and our designation has been cited as baseless on countless occasions; therefore we are in an ongoing process to have it lifted. For these reasons, any campaign to hinder or prevent our work is outrageous, disappointing and only harms our beneficiaries.”
Interpal, a UK charity regulated by the Charities Commission, describes itself as “a specialist, non-political charity working to support the most vulnerable and support Palestinian communities.”
It states: “We exist to empower Palestinians to face their challenges and hardships in our principal areas of operation: the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.”
However, Interpal has been designated as a terrorist entity by the US Department of the Treasury since 2003.
It is classed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), which means that any of its assets in the US must be frozen, and that transactions with US nationals are prohibited.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has previously spoken of his support for Interpal, appearing in a promotional video for the charity. He was invited by the organisation to tour Gaza in 2013.
A Labour spokesperson said: “Interpal is a UK registered charity whose important work has been praised by the United Nations, MPs from across the Houses of Parliament and the Charity Commission.”
The US Department of the Treasury described Interpal as “a principal charity utilised to hide the flow of money to Hamas” and says: “Reporting indicates it is the conduit through which money flows to Hamas from other charities”.
Interpal raised more than £6 million in 2016, including £0.5 million in Gift Aid.
Its 2016 Annual Report acknowledged the difficulties it was encountering regarding banking as a result of the 2003 US designation of its organisation: “Interpal continues to cope with the challenges caused by the 2003 US designation, especially in the provision of banking facilities. This is an ongoing and serious obstacle to Interpal’s operations”.