Israel to Join the FATF as Observer

The members of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) confirmed the acceptance of Israel to the inter-governmental body

Israel to Join the FATF as Observer

In recent decades, it has become very clear that one of the main ways to prevent a global terrorist activity is damaging sources of financing that allow the activity. As the dimensions of terrorism and the scope of terrorist groups activities become more significant, the organization needs more funds. Such complex and varied Activities are not possible without relying on significant financial sources and building a solid economic foundation. Terrorist groups are criminal organizations in every way, and use concealment techniques similar to those of money launderers to transfer and spend money. While launderers seek to conceal the source and the owner of any property obtained by crime, terrorist organizations seek to disguise the illegal destination of the property.

Terrorist groups enjoy the financial support of governments such as Iran and Syria. They also rely on self-financing in various fields, many of them related crime, as well as funds transferred from legitimate sources, such as donations to charities, often without donors knowing that a portion of the funds will be used for terrorist activities. Whether it is a valid or illegal source, the result is that these organizations obtain tremendous financial resources, which they seek to launder.

The increase of terror attacks against Israel in recent years as well as the tidal wave of terrorist attacks around the world led to a conceptual change in regards of terrorism in Israel. According to the report of the Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority in the Ministry of Justice, almost 14% of suspicions of money laundering in 2014 involved financing of terrorism. All this led to the understanding that the fight against terrorism requires a revision of the anti-terrorism approaches and measures. This fight requires inflicting damage to the terrorist infrastructures, particularly economic infrastructure and financial channels of terrorist organizations.

Israel has considerable expertise in this field, and is considered a leading country in the fight against money laundering and terror financing. Evidence of this was given recently when Israel joined the FATF, an international task force established by the G-7, leading the struggle and outlining the global policy in this matter, even for countries which are not members. Countries that do not meet the standards outlined by the organization are included in the "black list" and are subject to international sanctions. The exclusive organization includes 37 countries and is not open to accept new members. However, following a long and complicated diplomatic process led by the Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, the organization decided, exceptionally, to add to its ranks a number of new countries, including Israel. At this stage, Israel is only an observer, which will allow it to participate in discussions and to shape the global policy, until its acceptance as a full member.

Israel's active participation in the global fight against the financing of terrorism strengthen the global policy in this matter. Alongside a small group of influential countries, Israel is placed at the forefront of the fight against global terrorism.

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