Palestinians can’t access Paypal, and it’s a big problem

Published August 29th, 2016 - 01:19 GMT
#PayPal4Palestine campaign is calling for a rethink (AFP / Karen Bleier)
#PayPal4Palestine campaign is calling for a rethink (AFP / Karen Bleier)

A new campaign is urging PayPal to open its services to Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank, and not just Israelis.

The #PayPal4Palestine hashtag, which was started by the advocacy group Americans for a Vibrant Economy in Palestine, urges PayPal to open up their services to Palestinians. Doing that, it argues, will introduce economic opportunities in a context of high youth unemployment and struggling industry. More importantly, it will address a glaring inequality. Israelis can access Paypal services, and that includes settlers who are living in the West Bank – by most measures in violation of international law – while their Palestinian neighbors cannot.

The campaign was launched with an open letter to PayPal from Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, and signed by dozens of Palestinian supporting organisations.

Allowing access to PayPal, they wrote, would mean “removing a major limitation on the Palestinian technology sector, one of the only bright spots in the overall economy”.

“PayPal’s absence is a major obstacle to the growth of Palestine’s tech sector and the overall economy,” the letter continued. “By entering the Palestinian market, PayPal has the opportunity to make a significant contribution toward alleviating the destabilizing unemployment rates of over 25% in the West Bank and 40% in Gaza.”

Many Palestinians jumped at the opportunity to appeal to PayPal to open up their services to Palestinians.

“A lot of talented and educated people here need it so badly,” Nadia Abu Shaban, a Gaza-based freelancer, told Al Bawaba. “You can’t work as a freelancer; you can’t sign up for a lot of webinars because you don’t have a paypal account. I think this is a huge struggle and a very big problem.”

At present, it’s necessary to enter an address to receive and send payments through Paypal, but Palestine, or the State of Palestine, is not listed as an option on the site. Al Bawaba reached out to PayPal for comment as to why that is, but has yet to receive a reply.

“Even if no one will use this service,” Abu Shaban said, “it must be available because Palestine is a part of the world.”

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