x

Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Israel calls on US states to retaliate against Airbnb for West Bank ban

Anti-boycott minister sends letter to governors of Illinois, New York, Florida, Missouri, and California

A road sign points towards an Airbnb apartment, located near the Jewish settlement of Shilo. AFP
A road sign points towards an Airbnb apartment, located near the Jewish settlement of Shilo. AFP

Israel has called on five American states to retaliate against home rental service Airbnb for delisting properties in illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The booking website removed around 200 Israeli-owned properties from its platform on November 19 after deciding that such buildings were “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

Israel’s hard-right government had pledged to complain to the US administration about the California-based company’s move. But, on Wednesday, Israeli Interior Minister Gilad Erdan submitted a letter to five US states to call on them to take steps against Airbnb.

The letter was addressed to the governors of New York, California, Florida, Missouri and Illinois.

Mr Erdan called the Airbnb decision an adoption of “the anti-Semitic practices and narrative of the boycott movement” that is calling for Palestinian equality and an end to Israel’s occupation of territories it seized in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

He called on the governors 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 respective states.

_______________

Read more:

Beyond the Headlines podcast: Land as a weapon against Palestinians

Artist Hazem Harb's excavation of the Palestinian past

Israel arrests Palestinian Jerusalem governor again

West Bank village braces for another two-state death blow

_______________

It remains unclear if any of the states will act upon the Israeli minister’s call, but 25 US states already ban investment in companies that choose to boycott Israel. The US administration is also viewed as the most pro-Israeli since the country’s creation in 1948, imposing moves that have sought to change the reality on the ground, such as the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Mr Erdan also complained that Airbnb has not delisted properties in any other territory that is contested or involved in a conflict.

But the company has stated that it is still deciding whether to remove home rentals from Western Sahara, the disputed territory in the Maghreb region of North Africa, where there are around two dozen listed properties.

Palestinians lauded the decision as a step in the right direction towards delegitimising Israel’s settlement enterprise. They have now called on Airbnb to delist properties in East Jerusalem, the occupied territory they seek as the capital of any future state.

The territory hosts some of the holiest in Islam and Judaism, including the Haram Al Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, as known to Muslims and the Temple Mount as known to Jews. Palestinians and rights groups accuse Israeli authorities of trying to impose its control on the territory to squeeze them out of the holy city and into the West Bank.

Israel has also developed a network of settlements in East Jerusalem that are considered by the majority of the international community as illegal under international law.