Israel reignites row with Airbnb by seeking legal steps over West Bank boycott

Israel: Israel’s strategic affairs minister Gilad Erdan has reignited the row with Airbnb by calling on the compamy to rescind its boycott of West Bank settlement listings.

Erdan was speaking at the opening of a new four-kilometre road in the West Bank, just outside of Jerusalem.

He warned that Israel would continue its legal pursuit of the rental service both in Israel and abroad, particularly in the United States.

Erdan said: “As long as Airbnb does not rescind its policy of discriminating against the citizens of Israel, we will continue to promote steps against the company, both in the regulatory and legal spheres here in Israel and vis-à-vis our friend in the US and around the world.”

It came after one of Airbnb’s most high-profile executives, Chris Lehane, visited the West Bank in December.

Lehane visited the country to soothe Israel’s relationship with the company after Airbnb decided to no longer list short-term rentals on the West Bank on its website in November.

At the time, he told Israeli officials that the company would review the decision. He has since said that the company would not take any more steps to implement the policy.

Airbnb also issued a statement, explaining that it opposed the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which will seek to apply economic pressure to Israel until it ends its occupation of the West Bank and allows the return of Palestinian refugees.

Erdan responded by saying that the only acceptable response to Israel’s complaints was to rescind the policy.

He said: “It is not enough that they came here, held a few meetings and declared that they are against the BDS. They have to prove it in deeds.

“We won’t tolerate any form of boycott against Israeli citizens, not in Judea and Samaria and not anywhere else,” he added.

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