Airbnb Ends West Bank Settlement Listings, Causing Uproar in Israel

Airbnb Ends West Bank Settlement Listings, Causing Uproar in Israel
Airbnb to remove listings at Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank
JERUSALEM — Home-renting company Airbnb Inc. said on Monday it would remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move Israel called a “wretched capitulation” to boycotters and Palestinians hailed as a step towards peace.

Israel captured the West Bank in a 1967 war. Its settlements there are considered illegal by most world powers.

Airbnb removes Israeli West Bank settlement listings

Palestinians deem the settlements, and the military presence needed to protect them, to be obstacles to their goal of establishing a state. Israel disputes this.

Ideologically driven Jewish nationalists who claim all of historic Palestine have since created outposts there, pushing out Palestinian residents. Today, more than half a million settlers live in what have become sprawling towns connected by a network of roads that cut up the West Bank.

“We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians,” Airbnb said on its website.

For two years, Human Rights Watch has spoken with Airbnb about their brokering of rentals in West Bank settlements that are illegal under international humanitarian law and for which Palestinian ID holders are effectively barred from entering, he said.

“Our hope is that someday sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow.”

Palestinians and their supporters had long lobbied Airbnb to delist the settlements. Israel strongly opposes such calls for boycotts, which it considers a biased approach to the conflict.

Israels tourism minister Yariv Levin called the decision discriminatory, according to Israeli media, and instructed his ministry to limit the companys activity throughout the country. It was not clear what this would mean.

Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin called Airbnb’s move “the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts.”

Husam Zomlot, a Palestinian diplomat, condemned the firm at the time, saying it was promoting stolen property and land. There will come a time when companies like this, who profit from the occupation, will be taken to court.

Speaking on Israel’s Channel 13 television, he said Israel was not told of the decision in advance and that it would respond by backing lawsuits by settlement listers against Airbnb in U.S. courts.

Waleed Assraf, head of a Palestinian anti-settlement group run by the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation, welcomed Airbnb’s decision. Should other companies follow suit, he told Reuters, “this will contribute to achieving peace.”

Oded Revivi, mayor of the West Bank settlement of Efrat and a representative of the umbrella settler council Yesha, said Airbnb’s decision was contrary to the company’s stated mission of helping “to bring people together in as many places as possible around the world.”

Airbnb, which says it operates in 191 countries, will face a backlash from within Israel and from its international backers, who have fiercely fought attempts to delegitimise Israels control of the West Bank.

“When they make such a decision, they get involved with politics, which … is going to defeat the actual purpose of the enterprise itself,” Revivi told Reuters

Human Rights Watch said the Airbnb move came on the eve of its publication of a 65-page report it has carried out into tourist rental listings in settlements, including by Airbnb.

Airbnbs decision to end its listings in Israeli settlements is an important recognition that such listings cant square with its human rights responsibilities,” the group said on Monday. “We urge other companies to follow suit. The group said its report would be released on Tuesday morning.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

In 2016, Airbnb came under added scrutiny after it was revealed that its website listed settlement properties as being inside the state of Israel, and not the Palestinian territories.

Israel considers the West Bank, the biblical cradle of Judaism, as a security bulwark to the east. Palestinians want the West Bank for a future state, along with East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The accommodation bookings website announced on Monday that around 200 listings would be taken down in what will be seen as a victory for the Palestinian-led anti-occupation movement.

San Francisco-basked Airbnb is eyeing an IPO next year after announcing in February it would not make a public debut this year.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordanian forces in 1967 and continues to control and occupy the area, although Palestinians have limited self-rule over small enclaves.

Home-renting company Airbnb Inc. said on Monday that it would remove listings in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, enclaves that most world powers consider illegal for taking up land where Palestinians seek statehood.

We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.

We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, a statement on the Airbnb website said.

Our hope is that someday sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow.

An Airbnb spokesman said the decision, affecting some 200 listings, would take effect in the days ahead.

There was no immediate response from the government of Israel, which captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, nor from Palestinian authorities.

Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

Oded Revivi, mayor of the West Bank settlement of Efrat and a representative of the umbrella settler council Yesha, described the Airbnb decision as contrary to its mission, as stated on the website, of help(ing) to bring people together in as many places as possible around the world.

When they make such a decision, they get involved with politics, which … is going to defeat the actual purpose of the enterprise itself, he told Reuters.