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Airbnb commits to removing rentals in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank

By staff |
November 20, 2018
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Washington, D.C. – On November 19 AXIOS reported that after years of controversy, Airbnb will remove all home-sharing lists - roughly 200 - in illegal Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. According to a blog post, Airbnb said they have developed a five-part checklist to evaluate how it handles listing in occupied territories and based off that checklist, they "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."

The announcement comes after years of sustained advocacy from a coalition of groups known as the StolenHomes Coalition - which included organizations like SumOfUs, CODEPINK, American Muslims for Palestine, the US Palestinian Community Network, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Friends of Sabeel North America, Up Lift and Jewish Voice for Peace.

More than 150,000 people from around the world joined onto a petition urging Airbnb to stop listing vacation rentals in Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land and deemed illegal under international law. Thousands of people also left reviews on a microsite parodying Airbnb rental listings and calling attention to the fact that the vacation rental company continues to list Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Coalition members held a protest at Airbnb’s European headquarters in Ireland, and in other cities around the world. Coalition members also called on Fidelity Investments, one of Airbnb’s largest owners, to push the company to stop the illegal rentals and released a video campaign called “We Can’t Live There. So Don’t Go There,” featuring Palestinians speaking directly to Airbnb’s new marketing campaign “Don’t Go There. Live There,” and urging potential travelers not to rent vacation homes in settlements, which are often not clearly identified as such in the website’s listings.

“There’s no delicate way to say this: for years, Airbnb has profited from rental suites built on top of the ruins of Palestinian lives and livelihoods,” explained Angus Wong , Campaign Manager from SumOfUs.org. “While it is good that Airbnb finally recognized the illegal nature of these listings and pulled them from their website - this decision took way too long. By listing these stolen homes for years, Airbnb directly helped Israeli settlers legitimize their occupation of stolen Palestinian land, contributing to the Israeli government's decades-long policies of occupation, discrimination and dispossession. We will be monitoring Airbnb to make sure that no more illegal rental properties built on Palestinian land are listed on the site - and urge Airbnb to take steps to make amends to the Palestinian people by donating profits from these illegal listings to Palestinian organizations working to provide services to people amidst the Israeli occupation.”

"The U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) celebrates the decision by Airbnb to finally act on its stated values of inclusiveness and anti-discrimination," said Hatem Abudayyeh, National Coordinating Committee member of USPCN, "especially since Israeli settlement listings are the exact opposite of these principles. "They represent exclusive, militarized ethnic enclaves, illegal under international law, that Airbnb helped normalize as tourist destinations. For visitors to Palestine, we hope Airbnb rentals continue to be an important avenue for our people in Occupied Palestine to showcase their hospitality and history. We are happy now that they can do so without the shadow of colonialism as competition."

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