Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 23 August 2019

Airbnb reverses ban on occupied West Bank listings

The home rental platform initially removed properties built illegally on stolen Palestinian land

A cat jumps at a guest house advertised on Airbnb international home-sharing site in Nofei Prat settlement at the West Bank. AP
A cat jumps at a guest house advertised on Airbnb international home-sharing site in Nofei Prat settlement at the West Bank. AP

Home rental company Airbnb has reversed its decision to drop properties listed in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The company was sued by several hosts and potential hosts who were concerned their listings would be removed. Airbnb settled all legal action on Monday night, before the Israeli election.

“Under the settlement terms, Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform,” it said on Tuesday.

The company announced in November that it would drop listings for about 200 properties in the occupied West Bank.

Most of the international community deems the settlements to be illegal because they are built on Palestinian land. Palestinians want the West Bank to be part of any future state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to annex the West Bank.

Around 400,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements there, which range in size from tiny hamlets to large towns, with another 200,000 Israelis living in settlements in annexed East Jerusalem.

Airbnb said it would not profit from any business in the West Bank and would donate proceeds to charity.

An Amnesty International report this year said that digital tourism companies such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor profit from "war crimes" by offering services in Israeli settlements.

The Destination: Occupation report called on the companies to stop listing tourist accommodation, activities and attractions in settlements in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem.

"In doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law," the report said.

Israel's public security minister Gilad Erdan threatened to bar Amnesty from access to Israel after the report was released.

Amnesty launched a campaign in 2017 that called on governments to prevent businesses based in their countries from operating in illegal settlements.

Israel passed legislation that year banning entry to foreigners who supported a boycott of Israel or its settlements.

Updated: April 10, 2019 03:25 PM