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The New Arab Staff

TripAdvisor must stop doing business in illegal Israeli settlements: Amnesty

Occupation of Palestinian land is increasing as at a record pace, the UN reported [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 June, 2020

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With a 'sharp increase' in Israeli settlement expansion underway, Amnesty has called on the holiday booking site to not 'legitimise settlements by doing business in them'.
Amnesty International has called on TripAdvisor to remove its listings in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), as the number of Israeli settlements rises in number.

With a "sharp increase" in Israeli settlement expansion underway, the holiday booking site must not "legitimise settlements by doing business in them", according to an Amnesty statement released Thursday.

The rights group also submitted a petition signed by 300,000 people to TripAdvisor's CEO Stephen Kaufer, calling on the company to stop its business dealings in the settlements.

"Israeli settlements violate international law and amount to war crimes. Companies which operate in the settlements are contributing to human rights violations and tacitly supporting Israel's policy of forcing Palestinians out of their homes and crushing their basic rights," Saleh Higazi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said.

"It is shameful that TripAdvisor has failed to update its policies, even as Israel forges ahead with increasingly aggressive land grabs that will intensify the suffering of Palestinians. Trip Advisor must comply with its responsibility to respect human rights and refrain from contributing to war crimes."

Amnesty has previously documented the impact of digital tourism companies, like Airbnb, as they "profit from war crimes and human rights violations against Palestinians" by attracting commercial opportunities on "illegally occupied land".

Occupation of Palestinian land is increasing at a record pace, the UN reported last week.

According to a report by OCHA, 70 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished or grabbed by Israeli forces between the period of 2 and 15 June under the pretext of lack of Israeli-issued building permits, displacing 90 people and affecting over 280 others.

The sharp rise in demolitions has led to a 250 percent increase in such instances, the UN agency said.

The global body said in its fortnightly report, which covers the period between 2 and 15 June, that 61 of the affected structures were located in Area C, which is under full Israeli military rule.

Nine of the structures had been provided as humanitarian assistance to impoverished Palestinians. Among the hardest-hit areas was Massafer Yatta, south of the southern West Bank city of Hebron, where the Israeli authorities demolished 17 homes and other buildings and structures crucial to Palestinians in the area.

Occupied East Jerusalem was also badly affected by Israeli violence. Israel forced four Palestinian families to demolish their own homes and other structures to avoid extortionate fees.

Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, committing various crimes against Palestinian civilians.

More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.

Often, Israel forces Palestinians to demolish their own homes under the pretext of not having a building permit.

Applications for building permits are also known to take years to be processed, giving Israeli courts a loophole to increase Palestinian home demolitions by branding structures as "illegal".

Four out of five of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem live under the poverty line, and applying for building permits comes with various taxes and fees amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

Between 2010 and 2014, only 1.5 percent of all Palestinian building permit applications across the occupied West Bank were approved by Israel, according to the UN.

The cost of a permit for a single home is estimated to be in the region of $30,000.

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