Airbnb to remove listings in West Bank settlements

Airbnb said it will remove from its listings all homes in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which has prompted Israel to file legal action against the US company.

In contrast Palestinians are happy with the move but Israel called it “shameful” and threatened legal action.

An evaluation by Airbnb “concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

“We know that people will disagree with this decision and appreciate their perspective. This is a controversial issue,” Airbnb said in a statement.

The decision will affect 200 homes in the Israeli settlements which were listed on the online platform.

The international community considers the Israeli settlements illegal and a key deterrent to peace between the decades long conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Human Rights Watch’s director for Israel and the Palestinian territories, Omar Shakir, said Airbnb’s decision was a “welcome step”.

“Companies like Booking.com should follow suit,” he wrote on Twitter.

Airbnb statement added, “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.”

Israel’s tourism minister slammed Airbnb’s move, calling it “shameful and unfortunate”.

“Our ministry has started to prepare immediate measures to limit Airbnb’s activities,” in Israel, Yariv Levin said in a statement.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat said it was, “crucial for Airbnb to follow the position of international law that Israel is the occupying power and that Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including occupied east Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute war crimes”.

“We reiterate our call upon the UN Human Rights Council to release the database of companies profiting from the Israeli colonial occupation,” he said in a statement.

Photo credit- Jewish Telegraphic Agency

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