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News > World

Israel Turns to US Gov't Over Airbnb Boycott, Seeks Sanctions

  • Israeli settlers guarded by occupation forces are known for orchestrating attacks against Palestinian villagers throughout the West Bank.

    Israeli settlers guarded by occupation forces are known for orchestrating attacks against Palestinian villagers throughout the West Bank. | Photo: EFE

Published 20 November 2018

Israeli authorities stressed that 25 U.S. states have laws sanctioning BDS. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

Israel announced Tuesday it will consult with the United States government over a decision by home-renting company AirBnB Inc. to remove listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Airbnb To Remove Listings in Israel's West Bank Settlements

"We will approach the U.S. government because 25 U.S. states have sanctions against American companies that boycott Israel," Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said on Israeli Army Radio.

"In this respect, there is no distinction between this part or that part of the State of Israel," he said, asserting that the West Bank, which Israel has never annexed, should also fall under the anti-boycott protection.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which strives for the end of Israel's military occupation of Palestine, the recognition of Palestinian refugees' right to return, and the respect of Palestinians' human rights welcomed Airbnb's Monday announcement.  

Israel called it a "wretched capitulation" to boycotters.

Palestine Legal, a Palestinian rights group that monitors U.S. anti-boycott legislation, said on its website that some of the laws enacted at U.S. state-level apply both to Israel and "territories controlled by Israel", an allusion to areas such as the West Bank, which has been under Israeli military rule since 1967.

Israeli settlements in occupied territory are considered illegal by the international community, which has condemned their rapid expansion. Palestinians deem the settlements to be obstacles to their goal of establishing an independent state. Israel disputes this. However, Israeli settlements have undermined any possibility for territorial continuity within the West Bank, and most recently they have played a crucial role in separating the occupied city of East Jerusalem from the rest of occupied Palestine.  

On its own website, Airbnb said "many in the global community have stated that companies should not be doing business here (in the occupied territories) because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced".

Subsequently, it concluded it should remove the approximately 200 "listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians."

Erdan, who leads Israel's campaign against the BDS, said Airbnb "will have to explain why it is taking this discriminatory and racist line here in particular and not in other conflict zones in the world".

Oded Revivi, mayor of the West Bank settlement of Efrat, said Airbnb had violated its own stated mission "to bring people together in as many places as possible around the world."

Israel's Tourism Ministry said it was looking at options, including new taxation, for restricting Airbnb activities throughout Israel.

Airbnb's move came on the eve of the publication of a report by Human Rights Watch on tourist rental listings in Israeli settlements. The New York-based group hailed Airbnb's "important recognition that such listings can’t square with its human rights responsibilities."

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