Thursday, November 22, 2018
On Monday, online rental firm Airbnb announced its intent to remove housing listings in Israeli West Bank settlements. The decision would likely affect about 200 properties within the coming days.
Airbnb said they made the decision because of the controversy surrounding the settlements, describing them as “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.
The company stated: “US law permits companies like Airbnb to engage in business in these territories. At the same time, many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced”.
Various human rights activists and Palestinian officials, critics of Airbnb’s West Bank listings for several years, lauded the announcement. Israeli leaders criticized the company and supported bringing legal action against it in US courts.
The Israeli Ministry of Tourism said they would act to limit Airbnb’s activity within the country. The office’s minister Yariv Levin also ordered the creation of a program aimed at boosting West Bank settlement tourism and accommodations.
Under international law, disputed by Israel, Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal. The settlements have been a major obstacle in peace negotiations for the region. About 600 thousand Israeli settlers populate West Bank and East Jerusalem Israeli settlements.