Photo: EPA
Palestinians in line for the ATM
Photo: EPA

Palestinian bank to open in Israeli-controlled area of West Bank

A new Palestinian bank is set to be opened on the Israeli side of the West Bank border in the Palestinian village of Al-Ram, which will offer services to Palestinians in east Jerusalem.

The National Bank, a private Palestinian bank, will open a branch in the Palestinian village of Al-Ram, on the Israeli side of the security barrier that Israel has built in and around the West Bank.



It will be the first Palestinian bank in this part of the West Bank, and will enable Palestinians in the area to managed their finances without traveling to either Ramallah or to Jerusalem.


The bank is being built in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank that is under sole Israeli control. Hardliners in Israel have called for Israel to annex all or part of this area, and a bill to annex the Jewish settlement of Ma'ale Adumim is set to come before the Knesset next week.


Getting the required Israeli and Palestinian permits was not an easy task.


“None of us knew or understood the full nature of the legal procedures and steps that needed to be taken at the beginning of this journey,” Ahmad Haj Hassan, the general manager of The National Bank (TNB) told The Media Line. It took two years to get needed permits from both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.


The Bank received a banking license to establish a new branch from the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), which serves as the de facto central bank and fulfilled the Israeli requirements to open a bank.


Palestinians in line for the ATM (Photo: Reuters)
Palestinians in line for the ATM (Photo: Reuters)


Al-Ram is a town of about 50,000 just outside Jerusalem’s municipal borders. About half of the residents have Jerusalem ID cards, which enable them to enter Jerusalem freely.


“Serving marginalized communities within Jerusalem, especially women and youth, is a primary goal for TNB,” Hassan said. “Our goal is to reach every Palestinian wherever he or she may be.”


Currently Palestinians do their banking either at Israeli banks in Jerusalem, or at Palestinian banks in the West Bank. Hassan says that TNB is the fastest growing bank in “Palestine”, which competes with six other local banks, and ten regional banks including the Arab Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Arab world.


Tens of thousands of Palestinians live on the “Israeli” side of the security barrier. Construction of the barrier got underway in 2000, which was meant to stop Palestinian attackers from reaching Israel.


Travel to the West Bank can be complicated. Hassan, who was recently profiled as one of the 50 most important bankers in the Middle East according to the magazine Global Finance, says that establishing the new branch will help Palestinians avoid the daily logistical nightmares of crossing borders and Israeli security checkpoints.


Some Palestinians say that building institutions like banks is part of creating the infrastructure for an eventual Palestinian state. TNB has 13 branches throughout the West Bank. This newest branch will have between 15 and 18 employees, bank officials say.


“In terms of image alone, TNB would be able to connect with Palestinians beyond the West Bank,” Omar Omran, a professor of business at Birzeit University in the West Bank told The Media Line. “The ability to deliver a solution given the uncertain political and economic climate, demonstrates a results oriented approach by TNB’s management.”


Article written by Dima Abu Maria


Reprinted with permission from The Media Line .


פרסום ראשון: 03.03.17, 13:26
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