Airbnb drops Israeli settlements from listings

Moria Shapira, an Israeli settler who had been offering an apartment for rent through Airbnb, said she was "in shock" over the company's move.

The decision will affect around 200 homes in Israeli settlements which had been listed on the platform.

Airbnb announced on November 19 that it would change its policy regarding home rentals in occupied territories, singling out the West Bank.

The company conceded that "people will disagree with this decision".

Human Rights Watch applauded Airbnb's move, which came a day before the group's publication of a (presumably damning) report on the human rights impact of tourist rental listings in settlements.

But Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the decision was "the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts".

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called Airbnb's decision an "initial positive step".

Nick Papas, a spokesman for Airbnb, declined to comment on the officials' statements.

The home rental giant made the decision because it believes the settlements are at the "core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians".

Airbnb said it had to consider whether keeping the listings puts guests and hosts at risk and if the listings there contributed to

For years, critics have accused Airbnb of benefiting from rentals in Jewish outposts at the center of conflict in the region.

Though Airbnb explained that U.S. law permits companies to engage in business with Israeli settlements, it acknowledged that its decision was prompted by the almost three years of steady campaigning by human rights activists around the globe who have urged the company to drop listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The United Nations Security Council voted 14-0 in December 2016, with the US abstaining, to reaffirm previous statements that settlements in these territories are "a flagrant violation under global law", a major obstacle to a two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority, and have "no legal validity".

The issue of settlements is one of the most contentious areas of dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

"We reiterate our call upon the UN Human Rights Council to release the database of companies profiting from the Israeli colonial occupation".

Waleed Assraf, head of a Palestinian anti-settlement group run by the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation, welcomed Airbnb's decision. "The senior management of Airbnb will have to explain why they specifically, and uniquely, chose to implement this political and discriminatory decision in the case of citizens of the state of Israel".

Booking.com has 24 such listings, 17 of which are on land the state of Israel acknowledges to be Palestinian-owned.

The company could have been wary of further damaging its reputation after it was warned by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights a year ago that it could be included in an as yet unpublished database of firms doing business with Israeli settlements.

Those listings would not include settlements in East Jerusalem, territory Israel annexed in a move not recognized overseas and which the Palestinians want for a future capital, or the Golan Heights, which Israel captured from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war.


  • Tracy Klein