Israeli Leaders Rebuke Airbnb for Removing Listings in West Bank Settlements

Israeli Leaders Rebuke Airbnb for Removing Listings in West Bank Settlements

The US-based company said it now has about 200 listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and made its decision after speaking to "various experts", including critics of Airbnb's listings in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, whose office is charged with combating BDS campaigns, told Army Radio Tuesday that Israel would be reaching out to the USA government in light of the fact that 25 of its states have laws in place that require the sanctioning of American companies that boycott Israel.

Airbnb announced that it would pull listings from settlements in the occupied West Bank on Monday evening.

"By ending its brokering of rentals in illegal settlements on land off-limits to Palestinians, Airbnb has taken a stand against discrimination and land confiscation and theft", Omar Shakir, HRW's director for Israel and the Palestinian territories, told AFP.

And tourism minister Yariv Levin described it as "the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts". It was not clear what this would mean.

The Israeli settlements, constructed on land captured during the 1967 war, are illegal under global law, but Israel has long disputed this.

Ideologically driven Jewish nationalists who claim all of historic Palestine have since created outposts there, pushing out Palestinian residents. In similar previous cases, boycotts have constituted companies, performing artists, or others refusing to engage in business anywhere in Israel.

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The US firm said it had made the decision because settlements were at the "core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians".

Two years after +972 exposed Airbnb's operations in West Bank settlements, the company has announced it will be pulling all settlement listings from its site. According to Airbnb's website, these restrictions were made "to comply with worldwide regulations that restrict the use of our site by residents of certain countries" and are not related to the company's newly announced "disputed region" policy.

Israel denounced Airbnb's decision on Monday.

The move has been welcomed by Palestinians but Israel has called it "shameful" and threatened legal action.

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.

Shay Alon, Mayor of Beit El near Ramallah said, "Once again Jews are undergoing selection and we are not very happy with the boycott by Airbnb".

"International companies are interested in doing business with the State of Israel, but are unwilling to accept the continued military control of millions of Palestinians", the group said. "We call upon the people of Israel to visit us in Kfar Etzion, and as an appropriate Zionist response, we are preparing for the construction of new B&B (bed and breakfast) vacation rentals".

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