Saturday, April 18, 2015


Public statements, made by senior Hamas officials, appear to show that it is moving towards establishing a sovereign, independent Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip. Given that sanctions in effect against the designated terrorist group are not global, compliance officers at international banks in those countries where sanctions are in place will be presented with a difficult situation.

The purported national reconciliation program, which was allegedly in effect between Hamas and West Bank-based Fatah, has been an utter failure, due largely to Hamas' refusal to give up any power in Gaza to its longtime rival. The possibility of unity has reportedly been abandoned by Hamas.; Fatah leaders are said to be opposed to any departure from the traditional two-state solution.

Reports are stating that Hamas is setting up a committee, which will include the smaller Islamist factions, with a goal of creating an independent state, solely in Gaza. Since Israel voluntarily withdrew from Gaza several years ago, in theory, Hamas could declare Gaza independent. Of course, the restrictions that both Israel and Egypt have in force against Gaza's borders still make international commerce, and travel, a major problem, but international recognition, especially from those countries in the developing world that oppose US foreign policy, would be swift.

Compliance officers in the United States and Canada could face a dilemma: are goods being sold to those countries, especially those in Europe or the Middle East, merely in transit for Hamas, and how do US & Canadian banks protect themselves against potential criminal charges for unwittingly providing material support, namely payments for good sold, to a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organization. Banks will have to consider signed end user certificates from their client's customers, when the goods are delivered at a country that trades with Gaza; this could pose a problem with preserving existing business relationships.

 Hamas leaders have also bluntly stated that, notwithstanding the creation of a new state in Gaza, it will not cease its terrorist activities against Israel, so do not believe that this new state will solve the Arab-Israeli problem, which was been pending since 1948.

What if the EU releases Hamas completely from sanctions designation ? Will that render compliance against shipments to Hamas ineffective ? An independent Gaza will be a compliance officer's nightmare, if that officer worked at a banks whose customers were largely engaged in international trade.

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