While other financial service providers operate in the Palestinian territories, PayPal has singled out this region, offering its services only to Israelis. This has prompted eleven members of the US Congress, led by Representative Mark Pocan, to call for an end to PayPal’s discriminatory practices. They argue that PayPal’s current operations infringe upon the rights of Palestinians by denying them equal access to the digital economy.
In a letter addressed to PayPal’s CEO, Dan Schulman, the members of Congress emphasized PayPal’s responsibility as a globally recognized payment platform to ensure non-discriminatory service provision. This letter was delivered before PayPal’s annual stockholder meeting and signed by several other representatives, including Earl Blumenauer, Betty McCollum, Rashida Tlaib, and Greg Casar.
Despite other financial services providers like Visa, Mastercard, and Apple Pay operating without issues in the West Bank and Gaza, PayPal has labeled the area “high risk”. This stance has been criticized by Palestinian business owners who compare the PayPal ban to Israeli checkpoints that hinder economic development.
Harrington Investments, a socially responsible investment firm, has proposed a policy at PayPal’s shareholder meeting to prevent discriminatory exclusion from the company’s financial services in conflict zones like Palestine. If PayPal chooses not to implement this policy, the proposal suggests evaluating the economic impact of this exclusion policy on the affected populations and the company’s operations.
However, PayPal has recommended its shareholders vote against this proposal. Sam Bahour, a Palestinian American businessman, plans to address the shareholder meeting about the difficulties his companies face due to the inability to use PayPal, despite having worked with the US and UK governments and the EU.
In 2021, PayPal partnered with the Anti-Defamation League, a pro-Israel group, to investigate “hate group funding”. This partnership has been criticized by Palestinian groups who accuse the Anti-Defamation League of equating the campaign for Palestinian rights with extremism and antisemitism. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee has questioned PayPal’s intentions, asking whether they will target organizations that fund settler terror against Palestinians.
PayPal has yet to comment on these issues.