Israel: Airbnb has announced it will stop renting out homes in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a move that brought criticism from Israeli officials.
The San Francisco-based short-term rental platform said it would remove around 200 vacation rentals in the disputed region. Despite the fact US law authorises Airbnb to continue operating there, the company took the decision after consulting with outside policy experts.
Airbnb said in a blog post: “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. We know that people will disagree with the decision and we appreciate their perspective.”
Israeli strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan has since called for homeowners who had been affected by the ban to consider suing Airbnb.
Erdan said he was planning to discuss Airbnb’s decision with senior American officials to see if the move constituted a violation of US anti-Israel boycott laws. The Israeli tourism minister, Yariv Levin, called the move a “surrender to a boycott” and said he would look into imposing an additional tax based on Airbnb’s activities in Israel.
Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas declined to comment on the officials’ statements but said the Israeli settlement listings would be removed from the company’s listings platform in the coming days.
Critics have in recent years accused Airbnb of benefiting from rentals in Jewish outposts at the centre of conflict in the region.
Palestinian leaders have been looking for recognised statehood and have also fought for the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.