Monday 23 September 2019

Airbnb removes listings in Israeli settlements

The company said it will take down 200 listings in settlements ‘at the core of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians’.

Airbnb
Airbnb

By Isabel Debre, Associated Press

Holiday rental company Airbnb says it is removing its listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The company said it will take down 200 listings in Israeli settlements “that are at the core of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians”.

Airbnb said that although it had been operating in accordance with US law, it has wrestled with the question of whether to do business in Israeli settlements, which most of the international community view as illegal.

Palestinians and human rights groups have long urged the company to remove the listings.

Airbnb said it would cease operations in the occupied territory in hopes that “a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned”.

Israeli officials condemned the decision.

The senior management of Airbnb will have to explain why they specifically, and uniquely, chose to implement this political and discriminatory decision in the case of citizens of the state of Israel Gilad Erdan

Strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan, who oversees Israel’s battle against a Palestinian-led boycott movement, called on Airbnb hosts affected by the decision to file lawsuits in accordance with Israel’s anti-boycott law.

“National conflicts exist all over the world,” Mr Erdan said. “The senior management of Airbnb will have to explain why they specifically, and uniquely, chose to implement this political and discriminatory decision in the case of citizens of the state of Israel.”

Tourism minister Yariv Levin ordered his office to restrict the company’s activity throughout the country. He also instructed the ministry to ramp up its tourism programmes in West Bank settlements.

Human Rights Watch said the decision came on the eve of its publication of a 65-page report investigating tourist rental listings in settlements, including by Airbnb.

Arvind Ganesan, director of the group’s business and human rights division, called Airbnb’s move “an important recognition that such listings can’t square with its human rights responsibilities”. He urged other companies to follow suit.

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