Airbnb resumes listings in illegal Israeli settlements

Accommodation-sharing company Airbnb has announced it will backtrack on a plan to remove Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank from its rental listings.

Last year, the hospitality company had announced plans to remove settlement 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.

According to Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, "Airbnb’s decision to continue to allow accommodation listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is a reprehensible and cowardly move that will be another devastating blow for the human rights of Palestinians. "

Coverage of Amnesty International and Airbnb position below.

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Article
19 November 2018

Airbnb to take rentals in Israeli West Bank settlements off website

Author: Oliver Holmes, The Guardian

Airbnb has said it will remove from its website all properties in Israeli settlements built on the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank, after years of accusations that the company was benefitting from rentals in the illegal outposts. The accommodation bookings website announced on Monday that around 200 listings would be taken down in what will be seen as a victory for the Palestinian-led anti-occupation movement. “Many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced,” it said in a statement posted on its website. “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.” The announcement came before the publication on Tuesday of a damning report by the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch on the negative implications of its settlement business... Human Rights Watch welcomed the move. Arvind Ganesan, the business and human rights director at the organisation, said Airbnb’s decision was “an important recognition that such listings can’t square with its human rights responsibilities”...

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Article
20 November 2018

Israel: Airbnb to End Settlement Rentals

Author: Human Rights Watch

The decision by Airbnb to stop listing properties in unlawful Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is a positive step that other global tourism companies should follow, Human Rights Watch and Kerem Navot said in issuing a report today about the activities of Airbnb and Booking.com in settlements. The 65-page report, “Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land: Tourist Rental Listings in West Bank Settlements,” traces the status of the land on which rental properties were built. Human Rights Watch and Kerem Navot evaluated how Airbnb and Booking.com contribute to making settlements sustainable economically and benefit from the serious rights abuses and entrenched discriminatory practices stemming from the settlements. Israelis and foreigners may rent properties in settlements, but Palestinian ID holders are effectively barred – the only example in the world the organizations found in which Airbnb hosts have no choice but to discriminate against guests based on national or ethnic origin... Airbnb’s anti-discrimination policy forbids discrimination based on national origin in the United States and European Union, but permits it elsewhere, when domestic law allows it. In the West Bank, Airbnb had been acquiescing to a policy under which a Palestinian landowner cannot even pay to stay in a home built on their own land, let alone use their land for development. In order to comply with their responsibilities under the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, Human Rights Watch and Kerem Navot believe Booking.com should follow Airbnb’s lead and stop listing properties in settlements.

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Article
21 November 2018

Airbnb settlements disengagement decision shows the way forward for companies in the emerging context of business and human rights compliance

Author: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

Earlier this week, the San Francisco-based company, Airbnb, announced that it will remove from its popular accommodation bookings website all properties (currently around 200 Airbnb listings) in illegal Israeli settlements built in the occupied West Bank... Points of clarification do however remain that should be pursued with Airbnb. Their press statement does not state when the removal of listings will take effect (a search on their website just now indicates that listings in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank are still available). Moreover, it does not expressly state that listings within illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem will also be removed. Notwithstanding these outstanding issues, this significant disengagement decision does additionally highlight the importance of the pending UN business and human rights database that will list companies involved in specific settlement-related activities...

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Article
14 December 2018

Airbnb faces lawsuits in the US over alleged discrimination after decison to stop listing rentals in Occupied Palestine Territories

Author: Biz Carson, Forbes (USA)

"Airbnb Boycotted And Sued For Discrimination Following Israel Settlement Ban", 11 Dec 2018

Airbnb’s decision to remove 200 listings from Israeli settlements in the West Bank is [fiercly criticized]…

Several U.S. states are…researching whether the…company has broken state laws by prohibiting the listings, some U.S. cities are calling for a boycott [and] Airbnb faces multiple lawsuits over alleged discrimination… 

It's not the first time Airbnb stripped rental offerings because of a political dispute: The company removed approximately 4,000 listings in Crimea in 2014. But that move followed U.S. and international sanctions after Russia annexed the region from Ukraine…

[Despite Palestinians and the United Nations considering the settlements unlawful,] there are no U.S. sanctions against the Israeli…in the West Bank.... 

[Airbnb] spent at least two years in dialogue with the Human Rights Watch and other experts to make the November 19 decision, which preceded a 65-page report from Human Rights Watch called “Bed and Breakfast On Stolen Land.”…

Palestinian leaders cheered the decision [and]…six Jewish organizations…supported Airbnb, writing to the Israeli government in a joint letter to condemn the government’s criticism of the move as anti-Semitic

Airbnb has said that it does not align with the BDS (Boycott, Divest or Sanction) movement, which promotes different forms of boycotting to pressure Israel…

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said in a Forbes’ October 2018 cover story : “Before, it was really about financial metrics, and I think now companies are realizing we have a greater responsibility to society to make sure life is great.”

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Article
17 December 2018

Airbnb denies U-turn on West Bank settlement bookings

Author: Agence France-Presse, The Guardian

The online bookings platform Airbnb has denied a claim by Israel’s tourism minister that it had reversed a decision to stop listing accommodation in settlements in the occupied West Bank. The tourism minister, Yariv Levin, had said on his Facebook page that the firm “will not enforce its decision to withdraw proposed bookings from its website”. But Airbnb later said: “The information published earlier today was inaccurate.” Airbnb announced in November that it would “remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”. It said its decision would affect about 200 settlement homes. The firm said on Monday that it “unequivocally” rejects the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which urges wide-ranging economic measures to protest against the decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. Airbnb said it was committed to developing business in Israel, to allow “more tourists from around the world to enjoy the wonders of the country and its people”.

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Item
9 April 2019

Update on Listings in Disputed Regions

Author: AirBnb

Airbnb... [has] settled all lawsuits that were brought by hosts and potential hosts and guests who objected to a policy the company recently announced concerning listings in disputed areas... Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform. We understand the complexity of the issue... and we will continue to allow listings throughout all of the West Bank, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region... [profits] will be donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world.

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Article
12 April 2019

Israel/Palestine: Airbnb overturns decision to remove listings in West Bank following lawsuits

Author: AFP

"Airbnb reverses decision to remove listings in occupied West Bank", 10 Apr 2019

Home-sharing platform Airbnb on Tuesday announced it will back off a plan to remove Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank from its rental listings to end lawsuits brought by hosts...

The agreement settles all legal actions brought by hosts and potential hosts who went to court with concerns about listings, according to Airbnb... Israeli lawyers filed a class action suit against Airbnb in November immediately after it said it planned to remove from its rental listings Jewish settler homes in the West Bank "that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians."...

"Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform," the San Francisco-based company said Tuesday in a news 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."...

Profit generated from Airbnb listings in the West Bank will be donated to non-profit groups dedicated to humanitarian aid in various parts of the world, according to the startup...

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Item
15 April 2019

Israel/OPT: Reversal of Airbnb ban on illegal settlement listings deeply shameful

Author: Amnesty international

Responding to Airbnb’s announcement that they will no longer be removing all listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank following a class action lawsuit by Israeli lawyers, Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights Researcher, Mark Dummett said: “Airbnb’s decision to continue to allow accommodation listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is a reprehensible and cowardly move that will be another devastating blow for the human rights of Palestinians."

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