The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced it will not buckle to pressure to disconnect Israel – or for that matter, Russia – from its international transaction system.
“SWIFT regrets the pressure, as well as the surrounding media speculation, both of which risk undermining the systemic character of the services that SWIFT provides its customers around the world. As a utility with a systemic global character, it has no authority to make sanctions decisions,” the group said in a statement released on Monday.
“SWIFT services are designed to facilitate its customers’ compliance with sanctions and other regulations, however SWIFT will not make unilateral decisions to disconnect institutions from its network as a result of political pressure,” the communique said.
The international Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) movement has been trying to pressure the system – as well as numerous corporations and other systems – to boycott Israel in an attempt to destroy its economy. BDS supporters are hoping that through economic destruction, Israel will be forced to withdraw from territory it won in the defensive war forced upon it by Arab nations in 1967 – including numerous Jerusalem neighborhoods restored to the Israeli capital since that time.
Disconnecting Israel from SWIFT would isolate its economy from international trade. However, the Brussels-based SWIFT is incorporated under Belgium law, the system noted, blocking it from making such unilateral decisions.
“Any decision to impose sanctions on countries or individual entities rests solely with the competent government bodies and applicable legislators. Being EU-based, SWIFT complies fully with all applicable European law,” the statement said.
Last month, the SWIFT system transmitted more than 21 million financial messages per day between more than 10,500 financial institutions and corporations, in 215 countries, according to the RT news site.
Over the summer there were discussions among EU leaders on whether to consider disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT system as means of pressuring Moscow into backing away from the Ukraine conflict.Hana Levi Julian