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An Amnesty International report released Wednesday accuses travel sites of "driving settlement expansion" in Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor are "fuelling human rights violations against Palestinians" by continuing listings in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, human rights organization, Amnesty International said Wednesday.
In a report, titled "Destination: Occupation," the organization says the tourism industry is "inextricably linked" to settlement expansion in Occupied Palerstinian Territories, which violates international law and is a war crime.
“Israel’s unlawful seizure of Palestinian land and expansion of settlements perpetuates immense suffering, pushing Palestinians out of their homes, destroying their livelihoods and depriving them of basics like drinking water," said Seema Joshi, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Thematic Issues.
Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and are one of the leading causes of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, including their forced displacement through demolitions. Kfar Adumim, one of the settlements included in the report, is a growing tourism hub located less than two kilometres from the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, whose imminent and complete demolition by Israeli forces has been given a green light by Israel’s Supreme Court.
In September, senior United Nations officials called on the Israeli government “not to proceed with the demolition and to cease efforts to relocate Palestinian communities," in the West Bank which they said could “undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.”
Under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, companies are obligated to respect international humanitarian and human rights law, wherever they operate in the world. According to Amnesty International, until listings in settlements are taken down, all four companies in their report are in breach of their due responsibility.
"Every penny these companies earn from promoting tourism in Kfar Adumim is a profit from human rights violations," said Joshi.
Israeli Cabinet Minister Gilad Erdan dismissed the report before its release in a tweet.
"The report [Amnesty International] will release tonight on Israel is an outrageous attempt to distort facts, deny Jewish heritage and delegitimize Israel," Erdan wrote.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) said it was disheartened by Amnesty's report and said the organization should focus on "real human rights abuses" in Palestine.
"If Amnesty wishes to involve itself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should center its attention on the real human rights abuses ongoing in Palestinian territories, and not attack corporate businesses who strive to bridge divides and build peace through global tourism and interaction," said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer.
In addition, Amnesty International is calling on governments to implement regulations to mandate a ceasation of business and trade activities with Israeli settlements and their goods.