The Airbnb.com home-rental company has announced that it will be removing its listings located in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The corporation said in a press release that it had completed a reexamination of its policy, which had previously allowed such listings since “people-to-people travel has considerable value and we want to help bring people together.”
However, after consulting with various authorities, the company decided to drop roughly 200 listings in the settlements. “We 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,” Airbnb said.
The press release does not specify when the decision will go into effect or whether Israeli homes in the occupied East Jerusalem will also be dropped from Airbnb’s listings.
Peace Now lauded the decision by Airbnb: “Even if the Green Line is invisible to Netanyahu and Bennett, the rest of the world distinguishes between sovereign Israel and the occupied territories,” a spokesperson for the movement said. “If the government really wants to eliminate BDS — then it will end the occupation,” the statement concludes.
Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, welcomed Airbnb’s decision. “This is the right outcome. Kudos,” she wrote on Twitter, adding that the decision came on the eve of the release of a HRW report into “human rights harms of #Airbnb business in settlements”. That was echoed by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). “We all just won something significant!” JVP said on Twitter.
Citing a letter sent to Airbnb in 2016, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s negotiation affairs department criticized Airbnb’s statement, however, for describing the location of its listings as being on “lands subject to historical disputes.” “Israeli settlements are illegal and are built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, and are not ‘the subject of historical disputes,’” the PLO department said on Twitter.