Palestinians Condemn Airbnb For Reversal Allowing Listings In Israeli Settlements

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Written by Ann Brown
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FILE – In this Jan. 17, 2016, file photo, a cat jumps at a guest house advertised on Airbnb international home-sharing site in Nofei Prat settlement at the West Bank. Airbnb says it hasn’t reversed its plan to stop listing properties in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov, File)

Airbnb has done an about face in regards to its operations in Israel. The Home-sharing platform had announced it would remove listings in illegal Israeli settlements in occupied West Bank. But now, they are going to continue. But there’s a twist. Airbnb says it will not make money on the rentals. Instead, revenue will go to charity. Airbnb’s reversal came after hosts in the area filed several lawsuits against 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,’” Al Jazeera reported.

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Airbnb settled all the legal actions brought by hosts and potential hosts.

“Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform,” the company said 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.”

The profit from Airbnb listings in the West Bank will be donated to nonprofit humanitarian aid groups.

There are about 200 homes in Israeli settlements that are listed on Airbnb.

But the reversal doesn’t sit well with others.

“An Amnesty International report published earlier this year argued that digital tourism giants Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor are profiting from ‘war crimes’ by offering services in Israeli settlements,” Al Jazeera reported.

“We understand the complexity of the issue that was addressed in our previous policy announcement,” the company said. “Airbnb has always opposed the [Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions] movement. Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform. We have always sought to bring people together and will continue to work with our community to achieve this goal.”

This new stance is for other international AIrbnbs as well.

“Notably, the company said the policy doesn’t just apply to the West Bank: It will also be implemented in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two other disputed regions. The ‘breakaway provinces’ are both officially part of Georgia but supported by Russia,” CNN reported.

“Airbnb recognizes that there are many other disputed territories around the world,” the company said. “If Airbnb determines homes — the core of our business — are central to ongoing tensions, we will adopt the same approach.”