Airbnb is removing 200 listings from its website which are in the occupied West Bank. This decision has been welcomed by Palestinians, but they point out Airbnb is still listing homes for rent in East Jerusalem and Golan Heights. On the other hand, Yarin Levin, Israel’s tourism minister criticised Airbnb’s move as “shameful and unfortunate” and stating that his ministry is preparing immediate measures to limit Airbnb’s activities in Israel.
“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 press room. The rumor turned out to be true. In fact, around 200 listings will be affected by the decision set to take effect in the coming days.
The company says it decided to remove the listings after determining they were in Israeli settlements which are disputed by the Palestinians. The move was welcomed by the Palestinian administration which had previously asked the company to end its relationship with Israeli settlements. Unsurprisingly, Israel condemned the decision, calling it discriminatory: “this decision is something completely unacceptable. This is something that is taken only against Jews that are living in Judea and Samaria”, stated the ministry of tourism.
As a counter-measure, Levin said his country will soon re-launch a programme to encourage short-term rentals of properties in Israelis settlements.
Despite 2005 withdraw, the number of settlers continued to grow
The Israeli occupied West Bank counts about 200 Jewish settlements which are home to 600,000 people. These residential areas built by Israel on the Palestinian territory primarily for the Jewish communities are a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention according to the UN which outlines protections for civilians in a war zone.
The Convention forbids states from transferring their citizens to occupied lands. While Israel insists that any agreement should allow it to keep most of the settlements, the Palestinians say they can’t negotiate over a land that Israel is continuously “eating to”.
Since 1993, the number of Israeli settlers has actually doubled. Despite the fact that in 2005, Israel did withdraw settlers from Gaza and some from the West Bank, the total number of settlers continued to grow.