In 2018 the well-known rent company Airbnb promised not to rent anymore accommodations in illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory. However, in April this year it withdrew its promise and one can go on a nice holiday to Palestine.

In May 2019 Palestinian citizens called for a boycott of Airbnb, because it offers rental properties in illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. Airbnb first promised to delist the rental of properties in the West Bank, but a few months later it stated not to implement it. Instead it suggested to donate the money it made from the rental to international humanitarian aid organizations. What Airbnb doesn’t seem to realize (or it simply doesn’t care) that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are widely seen as war crimes under international law. The annexation of these areas caused the loss of homes for thousands of Palestinians. Airbnb supports the Israeli annexation of Palestinian land by still offering accommodations in the illegal Israeli settlements. As Amnesty International states, Airbnb supports a tourist industry at the expense of the native Palestinian population.

Besides, in 2019, the Israeli government accused Airbnb of discrimination after the company announced to delist 200 accommodations in the West Bank. The Israeli government was angry that Airbnb only chose to delist accommodations in this area and not in other areas around the world, where there are disputes of the same extent. It was thus concluded by some people that Airbnb only delisted the accommodations, because they Jewish properties.

The whole Airbnb model is very controversial. It supports the tourist income in a certain area, but it also profits from illegal rental, which exacerbates the segregation in a certain area. Many people living in areas where Airbnb has many accommodations, are concerned about the atmosphere in their community. A neighbourhood changes when it is dominated by tourists and one can only imagine what the effect is in an already very tense area.

There are plans to expand the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which is supported by the Trump government. In these Israeli settlements many Palestinian houses have been destructed (about 50,000) and new accommodations have been built for Israelis. Only the new Israeli settlers are able to reach the towns and the old Palestinians who previously lived there, won’t be able to see their old homes ever again. The expropriation of the Palestinian land violates the human rights of the Palestinians living there. The right to work, a home, health and education are taken from them.  

There are thus two sides to this story. On the one hand Airbnb was going to stop with renting accommodations in these illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but this was an indication of discrimination according to some. The ban was lifted and Airbnb kept their accommodations in the West Bank available, but this led to people saying it supports the abuses caused by the illegal settlements.

For further reading:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/12/airbnb-listing-company-is-deeply-compromised-by-israeli-settlement-properties/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-47881163

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45083954

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians-airbnb-idUSKCN1RM2F4

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