(Flash90/Abed Rahim Khatib) (Flash90/Abed Rahim Khatib)
Islamic Jihad

“Terror financing is illegal and exposes the credit card companies to both criminal and civil liability,” a leading watchdog group warned Mastercard and Visa.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

The legal eagle behind working to stop the Palestinian pay-for-slay policy said Thursday that his organization warned major credit card companies that they face criminal and civil charges if they keep doing business with Palestinian banks that support terror.

Last week Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) sent warning letters and a detailed report to Visa and Mastercard informing them that recent Israeli anti-terror legislation prohibits any bank transaction that “funds, promotes, assists, or rewards the performance of an act of terror.”

Maurice Hirsch, PMW’s Director of Legal Strategies, was one of the main movers behind the Israeli laws aimed at forcing the Palestinian Authority to stop its policy of paying hundreds of millions of dollars in lifelong stipends to terrorists who have attacked and murdered Israelis. If the terrorist is killed in the attack, the PA still pays monthly stipends to their families in the policy dubbed “pay-for-slay.”

Those laws bar companies from doing business with Palestinian banks that handle either the money transfers by the PA, or the bank accounts involved.

Hirsch said that it was too early to expect a response from the credit card companies.

“I assume that our report was the first time anyone in either Visa or Mastercard ever heard about the PA salaries to terrorists, so I think it is reasonable to give them time to consider their approach,” Hirsch told United With Israel.

Mastercard and Visa, both American companies, provide credit card services to the banks operating in the Palestinian Authority that handle the payment of terror rewards.

“Terror financing is illegal and exposes the credit card companies to both criminal and civil liability. Whereas, when they agreed to supply services to PA banks, Mastercard and Visa were probably unaware that the banks would facilitate both terror funding and the payment of terror rewards, PMW has now notified and warned both companies of the terror supporting operations of these banks. PMW also explained the necessity for them to cut all financial ties” with the Palestinian banks, Hirsch wrote in his report.

The continued provision of these services to the imprisoned terrorists, their proxies, and the released prisoners, in breach of the service contract and in the full knowledge that material assistance is being provided to terrorists who are paid rewards for their acts of terror, could potentially expose the credit card companies to both criminal and civil liability.

The new legislation spearheaded by Hirsch caused the Association of Banks in Palestine to ask the PA Finance Ministry earlier this year asking to stop transferring the pay-for-slay money to the banks. Hirsch said the PA apparently decided to set up its own bank to handle the job, possibly via PA post offices, but told the Palestinian banks that for now they have to keep paying the terrorists.

“Since the PA requirements for the new terror bank included the ability to provide the terrorists with credit, it is only reasonable to assume that the bank will seek to use the services of Mastercard and Visa,” Hirsch said, which prompted PMW to warn the credit card companies.

“For years, the banks operating in the PA have knowingly and intentionally allowed terrorists to freely use the services of Mastercard and Visa. These actions were most likely carried out without the credit card companies having knowledge of the banks’ willful terror support,” Hirsch said.

But that’s not the case any more now that PMW has warned the credit card companies directly.

“If MasterCard and Visa are to avoid potential criminal and civil liability, they should immediately cut ties with all the banks operating in the PA until such time as they are certain that these banks do not provide any services to known terrorists,” Hirsch said.

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