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A room in the house Biblical Shiloh, West Bank (photo: Airbnb)

Airbnb removes West Bank settlement listings

Palestinians hail the move, which comes after years of advocacy, but Israel calls it shameful and vows to fight it in US courts.

Airbnb says it will remove all home-sharing listings that are in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the BBC reports.

The US-based accommodation site says it made the decision because settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, are at the “core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

While the decision has been praised by Palestinians, Israel has called it “shameful” and has threatened legal action.

However, it took years of controversy before Airbnb finally opted to remove all home-sharing lists, about 200 of them, in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

According to a blog post, Airbnb says it developed a five-part checklist to evaluate how it handles listings in the occupied territories and made the decision on the basis of these findings.

Airbnb parody
The announcement comes after years of advocacy from a coalition of groups known as the StolenHomes Coalition, which includes organisations like SumOfUs, CODEPINK, American Muslims for Palestine, the US Palestinian Community Network, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, Friends of Sabeel North America, Up Lift and Jewish Voice for Peace.

More than 150,000 people from around the world joined a petition urging Airbnb to stop listing vacation rentals in Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.

Thousands of people also left reviews on a microsite parodying Airbnb rental listings and calling attention to the fact that the vacation rental company continued to list Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“US law permits companies like Airbnb to engage in business in these territories,” Airbnb’s statement on the issue reads.

“At the same time, 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.”

Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin says Airbnb’s move is “the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts”, adding that Israel will back hosts’ lawsuits against Airbnb in US courts.

More than 600,000 Jews live in some 140 settlements constructed since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War.

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