Texas blacklists Airbnb due to West Bank settlement boycott

US: The state of Texas has blacklisted Airbnb following its decision to remove listings of rooms and homes for rent in Jewish settlements in the West Bank in Israel.

The company was placed on the state’s “List of companies that boycott Israel” by Texas comptroller of public accounts, Glenn Hegar.

In 2017, Texas passed a law which prohibited government contractors from participating in boycotts of the country, in a counter move against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit in Texas against the law, saying it is an “unwarranted violation of Americans’ right to free speech”.

Under the law, Airbnb has 90 days to prove that it is not boycotting Israel nor has taken action against it, otherwise, Texas will “sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of the company”.

In November, Airbnb announced that it would remove listings of around 200 apartments and homes for rent in the West Bank settlements, but not in Palestinian communities. The company said it had spoken with experts to ascertain the significance of historical disputes in the region to decide whether it should be doing business in “the occupied territories”.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon said: “We welcome this decision very much and we hope that it will be emulated by other states and other countries in the world.”

Airbnb said: “We unequivocally reject and oppose the BDS movement and are disappointed by the [Texas] decision.

“There are over 20,000 Airbnb hosts in Israel who open their doors and showcase the best of Israeli hospitality to guests from around the world, which boosts local families, businesses and communities,” it added in a statement to Israeli media outlets.

Furthermore, in January, Florida governor Ron DeSantis said his state would pursue action against Airbnb for the West Bank settlement boycott, by suspending the use of Airbnb for state-paid travel and preventing its pension fund from investing in the company.