RAMALLAH, Tuesday, November 20, 2018 (WAFA) – Palestinian officials applauded on Tuesday the decision by Airbnb, which offers lodging sites globally on its website, to remove listings of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories from its website.
Airbnb, a global company headquartered in San Francisco, came under criticism for listing lodging for travelers to Israel in West Bank settlements considered illegal by international law.
“Many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here (occupied areas) because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced,” said Airbnb in a statement on Monday on whether or not it should remove the listings.
“For us, the question centers on the approximately 200 Airbnb listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and whether they should be available for rent on our platform,” it said, concluding at the end that, “When we applied our decision-making framework, 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.”
Responding to the Airbnb decision, Saeb Erekat, Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said: “While we believe that this is an initial positive step, it would have been 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.”
In a letter Erekat wrote to Airbnb in January calling on it to remove the listings in the settlements, he warned that since Israel’s settlements activities breach the Fourth Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, “by promoting these listings on your company’s website, Airbnb is effectively promoting the illegal Israeli colonization of occupied land.”