Airbnb, the home rental site, announced on Monday that it would change its policy regarding home listings in what it calls occupied territories, singling out the West Bank, The Jerusalem Post reported. In response, Israeli officials said they were looking at restricting Airbnb services in the Jewish State and urged affected hosts to file lawsuits under Israel’s anti-boycott law.
Airbnb said on its website that “many in the global community have stated that companies should not be doing business here (in the occupied territories) because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced.”
Subsequently, the company concluded that it should remove approximately 200 “listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States, deemed Airbnb’s policy “the very definition of anti-Semitism.” Oren observed that “Airbnb blacklists Jewish apartments in Judea and Samaria – not Palestinian apartments, not apartments in Turkish occupied Cyprus, not in Moroccan occupied Sahara, not in Tibet or the Crimea.”
“No one should use its services,” Oren added.
The Israeli Tourism Ministry responded to the move by announcing it would formulate an immediate retaliatory plan against the “discriminatory” action to “limit the company’s activities” in Israel. Officials said they would also consult with the U.S. government over the decision, based on anti-boycotts legislation that many U.S. states enforce.
“We will approach the U.S. government because 25 U.S. [Kentucky passed an executive order Thursday, bringing the number to 26] states have sanctions against American companies that boycott Israel,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said on Israeli Army Radio.
“National conflicts exist all over the world,” he said, so Airbnb “will have to explain why they specifically, and uniquely, chose to implement this political and discriminatory decision in the case of citizens of the State of Israel.”
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat welcomed the decision by Airbnb but said the company did not go far enough. “We reiterate our call upon the UN Human Rights Council to release the database of companies profiting from the Israeli colonial occupation. Israeli settlements are not just an obstacle to peace but defy the very definition of peace,” Erekat said.
— Jerusalem Center (@JerusalemCenter) November 21, 2018
However, the Palestinian leadership has defied efforts by the Trump administration to formulate a yet unreleased peace plan. Last month, PA chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, again said the plan “will not pass and the fate of the land of Palestine will be decided by the Palestinian people.” He accused the U.S. of “conspiracy” in putting its peace plan together, Israel of plotting to implement, and Hamas of working to disrupt the creation of a Palestinian state.
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