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Airbnb to remove listings in Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank

Nov. 20, 2018 3:43 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 22, 2018 3:05 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Home-renting company, Airbnb, decided, on Monday, to remove its listings in Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, in the occupied West Bank.

Airbnb said in a statement, "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."
The company has previously come under Palestinian criticism for such listings, which Palestinian officials and human rights campaigners found misleading for failing to mention that the property is on occupied land claimed by the Palestinians.

Palestinians believed that by contributing to the Israeli settlement economy, Airbnb, like many other companies doing business in the West Bank, helps maintain Israel's settlement enterprise.
The company explained that the "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," Airbnb said.

Airbnb also mentioned that a part of their decision-making process was to "evaluate whether the existence of listings is contributing to existing human suffering" and "determine whether the existence of listings in the occupied territory has a direct connection to the larger dispute in the region."

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization's (PLO) Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, welcomed Airbnb’s decision and 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."
Erekat called on the United Nations Human Rights Council “to release the database of companies profiting from the Israeli colonial occupation,” stressing that “Israeli settlements are not just an obstacle to peace but defy the very definition of peace.”

However, the Israeli Tourism Minister, Yariv Levin, responded to the company’s decision by instructing the ministry to restrict Airbnb’s operations across Israel and demanded Airbnb to cancel its "discriminatory" decision, saying it was a "shameful and miserable decision."

It remained unknown when the decision to remove about 200 listings would take effect.

According to settlement watchdog Peace Now, in the year and a half since President Trump took office some 14,454 units in the West Bank has been approved, which is more than three times the amount that was approved in the year and half before his inauguration (4,476 units).

Since the occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law.

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

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