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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 January 2019

Airbnb denies Israeli government claim it has reversed delisting policy

Company standing by last month's decision to delist properties in West Bank Israeli settlements

A guest house formerly advertised on Airbnb in the Nofei Prat West Bank settlement. AP
A guest house formerly advertised on Airbnb in the Nofei Prat West Bank settlement. AP

Airbnb denied on Monday that it had reversed its policy of banning listings for properties in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, despite Israeli government claims to the contrary.

The country’s tourism minister Yariv Levin said earlier in the day that the company had pledged “not to implement” its decision after representatives of Airbnb travelled to Israel to meet the government.

However, Airbnb swiftly responded: “The reports issued earlier today are inaccurate."

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“Airbnb expressed its unequivocal rejection of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and communicated its commitment to develop its business in Israel, enabling more tourists from around the world to enjoy the wonders of the country and its people,” it said.

“We are here to meet with a variety of stakeholders and as a result of our meetings have an even deeper understanding that this is an incredibly complex and emotional issue.

“Airbnb communicated that we are developing the tools needed to implement our policy and that process includes continuing our dialogue with the Government of Israel and other stakeholders,” the company said.

In November Airbnb said that it would stop listing properties in the settlements, which are considered illegal by most of the world, a decision which prompted uproar in Israel.

Officials accused the company of anti-Semitism and threatened to impose taxes on its operations in Israel. Lawsuits were filed in Israel and the US.

A letter was also sent to the governors of New York, California, Florida, Missouri and Illinois by Israel's interior minister, Gilad Erdan, calling on them to “consider speaking out against the company’s decision, and taking any other relevant steps, including in relation to commercial dealings” between it and their states.

Airbnb’s position was praised by Palestinians as a step in the right direction towards delegitimising Israel’s settlement enterprise. There were subsequent calls for the company to delist properties in East Jerusalem.

Updated: December 18, 2018 11:18 AM

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