Airbnb to remove listings in Israel's West Bank settlements


"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's actions came a day before the planned release of a report from the Human Rights Watch documenting what the organization describes as "human rights harms of #Airbnb business in settlements", the organization said on Twitter.

Liberal pro-Israel groups have objected to the failure of most such orders and laws to distinguish between boycotts of Israel within its 1967 borders, which they reject, and boycotts of settlement goods.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said his office had reached out to the Finance Ministry with a request to "impose a special and high tax" on Airbnb's activities. It was not clear what this would mean.

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.

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Ideologically driven Jewish nationalists who claim all of historic Palestine have since created outposts there, pushing out Palestinian residents.

Around 400 000 Israelis live in settlements that dot the West Bank and range in size from tiny hamlets to large towns, in addition to 200 000 living in settlements in occupied east Jerusalem. "Israeli settlements are not just an obstacle to peace but defy the very definition of peace", Erekat said in a statement.

Despite the vote, the USA went ahead with the embassy transfer on May 14, triggering demonstrations in the occupied Palestinian territories, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco and other Muslim countries.

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.

Israeli leaders slammed the decision and called on Airbnb to reverse it. We believe this decision advances the peace process and the two-state solution, which Israel would like to erase through settlement building.

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Netanyahu may very well still feel pressure from his right flank next time there is an escalation in Gaza or on other fronts. Some citizens of Israel have also been publicly vocal about their disappointment in the prime minister's decisions.

The decision prompted an immediate uproar in Israel. Airbnb wrote in a blog post.

That is "the only example in the world the organisations found in which Airbnb hosts have no choice but to discriminate against guests based on national or ethnic origin", it said.

Airbnb at the time said the US-based firm "respects the laws in force where it operates and investigates the concerns raised on the subject of some listings".

Palestinian activists and proponents of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement have long lobbied Airbnb to end its work in the Jewish-only settlements, which are illegal under global law.

The Anti-Defamation League has condemned the BDS movement as "the most prominent effort to undermine Israel's existence" and "rampant with misinformation and distortion".

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