Airbnb 'will allow illegal Israeli settlements' to be listed
Accommodation-sharing company Airbnb has announced it will backtrack on a plan to remove Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank from its rental listings.
Last year, the hospitality company had announced plans to remove Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank from its rental listings, saying that it took this decision to end lawsuits brought against it by the hosts.
"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," Airbnb said in November.
This immediately prompted Israeli lawyers to file a class action suit against the decision, which would have affected around 200 homes in Israeli settlements that had been listed on the platform.
Airbnb said on Tuesday it would not delist Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, but it would donate profits from any bookings in the territory to charities.
"Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform," the company said in a press release.
"We will continue to allow listings throughout all of the West Bank, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region," added the San Francisco-based company in a statement posted on its website
Airbnb have been the target of right groups and campaigners to persuade it to delist Jewish settlements from its platform.
In a campaign launched by Amnesty in 2017, the human rights organisation called on governments to prevent businesses based in their countries from operating in settlements.
"Governments worldwide must take action to regulate companies or activities over which they have control," urged Amnesty in a report Early this year.
Following this new decision, Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch, called on the home-sharing platform to retreat from its decision.
"Donating profits from unlawful settlement listings, as they've promised to do, does nothing to remedy the 'human suffering' they have acknowledged that their activities cause," said Ganesan, indicating that the company will be “complicit” in any abuses that would ensue from the listings.
Approximately 400,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank, ranging in size from tiny hamlets to large towns, with other 200,000 living in settlements in East Jerusalem.