Twenty European NGOs have lent their names to a campaign* seeking an import ban in the EU, on any goods produced by Israelis in the West Bank, and labeled "Made in Israel." This effort, which seeks to raise awareness with European countries, which are in general critical of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, of their extensive trading trading with these settlements. The stated goal is to have the EU focus on the Palestinian Territories, to produce a lasting political solution.
Whilst the controversy over the legality of Israeli purchases of West Bank land, for occupancy is outside the scope of this blog, which focuses on financial crime, the risks that a bank assumes, when its customers' politics could possibly result in sanctions violations, is not. I know that these NGOs are reputable, responsible entities, but the staff and volunteers within represent an unknown factor, when it comes to the risk that donations to, or transactions with, sanctioned individuals or organisations, occur.
To be blunt, it is not these NGOs, who are involved in the campaign to pressure the EU to cease trade with Israelis in the West Bank who are the danger, but individuals with their own hidden agenda, who could facilitate payments to Hamas, or any of the other sanctioned Palestinian terrorist organisations, with whom financial contact is strictly prohibited by law. The facilitators may be European volunteers with extremist views, or multilingual staff members from Middle Eastern countries who support a jihadist version of the Palestinian cause.
They may also be Hamas agents living and working in the West Bank or Europe. This week, Israeli authorities detained thirty of them, and dismantled what has been described as an operations centre, which included contact with expats abroad. Were any of those Hamas agents using or manipulating any of the charities, churches, or aid organisations on the list ?
I again state that whilst the organisations are benevolent, some individuals associated with them may not be so inclined. Let me suggest that, if you are banking any of these NGOs, you periodically check their accounts for:
(1) Transactions that are inconsistent with the stated aims and goals of the organisation.
(2) Transactions with accounts in jurisdictions known to be conduits for terrorist financing.
(3) Unusual or suspicious transactions.
(4) Shipments for payment of what could constitute dual-purpose goods, or goods with military application.
(5) Payments to foreign professionals or intermediaries with no connection to the organisation.
Here are the names of the NGOs; I have taken them directly from the document, so I cannot vouch for the spelling:
CCFD - Terre Solidaire
Church of Sweden
Dan Church Aid
IKV Pax Christi
International Federation for Human Rights
Medical Aid for Palestinians
The Methodist Church in Britain
Norwegian People's Aid
Norwegian church Aid
Quaker Council for European Affairs
Quaker Peace and Social Witness
You do not want to be interviewed by law enforcement, two years later, and be shown cancelled cheques or wire transfers, from your bank, that supported a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organisation (SDGT) in the Middle East; Monitor the accounts.
* Trading Away Peace.