Airbnb has caved into political and economic pressure from Israel, including a class action suit, following its earlier announced decision to pull out of illegal Israeli settlements. It has now declared it will continue doing business there.
A new Amnesty International report titled “Destination: Occupation” examines how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor are “contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law.”
It has been very hard to understands what Airbnb’s actual policy concerning illegal Israeli settlement listings is. A statement in Hebrew was issued saying it halted the ban policy, and was later contradicted by another saying it had not changed, and that this is all “incredibly complex and emotional.”
Airbnb is denying claims by an Israeli minister that the company was going to reverse its November decision to remove listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said in a Facebook post on Monday that following meetings with Israeli government officials, Airbnb would not be implementing its November decision.
Weeks after Airbnb’s landmark decision to pull out of Israeli settlements, Mondoweiss has learned that Airbnb is also currently preventing Palestinian hosts from listing their homes in the occupied West Bank. According to Airbnb customer service representatives in Israel and the United States any listings coming out of the West Bank are not currently being approved by the company — regardless if the listing is in a Palestinian city, or in an Israeli settlement.
Airbnb’s decision to pull listings in Israeli settlements has shed light on another service that offers listing in illegal colonies in the West Bank – Booking.com, which does not seem inclined to act similarly. It seeks to avoid a storm, which is surely coming anyway.
Echoing the Israeli government talking points, the ADL said that the Airbnb decision to end listings in the occupied West Bank was a capitulation to the anti-Semitic BDS campaign. Peter Beinart challenges the ADL to do its job and bear witness to the 51-year-old occupation that denies millions of Palestinians any freedom.
Airbnb’s pulling of listings in Israeli illegal settlements in the West Bank is highly selective. But Israeli leaders are viewing it as a total attack on Israel, and have plans to punish Airbnb. They are making the case for a comprehensive boycott of Israel as a whole, per the BDS campaign; for the government is utterly dedicated to the settlement enterprise.
Airbnb will no longer host rentals for stays in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The company said it will “evaluate whether the existence of listings is contributing to existing human suffering.” The announcement came one day before Human Rights Watch is schedule to release a lengthy report on vacation rentals in the occupied Palestinian territory.
Ashton Kutcher and Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky were just getting settled into their chairs on the stage of LA’s Orpheum theatre when Ariel Gold unfurled her Airbnb out of Settlements banner. “From Los Angeles to Palestine it is time for Airbnb to end their role in displacement,” she shouted. The common theme between Airbnb’s refusal to remove settlements listings and attempts to evade city regulations on short-term housing rentals is the company preferencing profits over people.