NEW YORK – The Israeli government is pushing for the closure of scores of accounts provided by the Dublin-based Allied Irish Banks that fund the promotion of anti-Israel boycotts.
Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who is leading the international campaign to counter the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, said in an exclusive statement to The Jerusalem Post: “I call on Allied Irish Banks to join the many institutions, leaders and citizens who are uniting to reject the discriminatory and antisemitic boycott movement against Israel, including by disassociating itself from any BDS-linked accounts.”
AIB, one of the Big Four commercial banks in Ireland, hosts Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign accounts, an organization based in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland that wages an aggressive BDS campaign targeting the Jewish state.
In January, the Israeli government included the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in a list of 20 BDS organizations whose representatives are not permitted to enter the Jewish state.
In 2016, the Bank of Ireland, also one of the Big Four commercial banks, closed the accounts belonging to the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign. According to the NGO, the bank terminated its account because financial transfers to Palestinian territories are defined as high-risk.
An Allied Irish Banks spokesman told the Post on Thursday that “AIB cannot comment on individual customer accounts.”
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign opened an account with AIB in late 2016. The NGO previously had accounts at the Bank of Ireland for 15 years.
Ireland is considered one of the most hostile countries to the Jewish state within the European Union.
The Irish government, the principal owner of AIB, launched an initial public offering in May 2017, offering a 25% stake in the bank.
Ownership of AIB stock could present issues for AIB shareholders in America, because the bank’s operation of BDS accounts may violate US laws barring boycotts.
The US-based investment company Franklin Templeton purchased shares in AIB. When sent a detailed query about AIB’s BDS accounts, Rebecca Radosevich, a spokeswoman for the firm, told the Post that “Franklin Templeton does not comment on stories focused on individual holdings.”
The spokeswoman told the Post the investment firm “is also firmly committed to international efforts to combat money laundering and the funding of terrorist and criminal activities, and as such it makes every effort to remain in full compliance with all applicable anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorist financing (ATF) laws, rules and standards adopted in the jurisdictions in which it does business.”
Franklin Templeton, which trades on the New York State Stock Exchange and describes itself “as one of the world’s largest asset managers,” has offices in US states where anti-BDS laws are in effect, including New York, Florida and New Jersey.
There is a growing financial industry standard to dismantle BDS accounts. The US online payment service PayPal shut down two French BDS organization accounts in January and February. Last year, the Dallas, Texas-based Comerica bank terminated a BDS account.
The New York-based investment firm Cerberus Capital Management, the principal owner of BAWAG bank in Austria, told the Post in 2016 that BAWAG closed the account of Vienna’s Austrian-Arab Cultural Center, which hosted a Palestinian terrorist, and supports BDS.
Major German financial institutions Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank have closed the accounts of scores of BDS entities since 2016.
The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign is currently engaged in the annual March campaign to label Israel an “apartheid” state.
The group’s Palestinian-Irish chairwoman Fatin al-Tamimi said Israel’s decision to ban its members from entering the Jewish state was “appalling.”