Caabu welcomes Airbnb decision to remove listings from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank, urges other companies like Booking.com to follow suit

Posted by Caabu on 20 Nov 2018

Caabu welcomes Airbnb’s announcement on 19 November 2018 to remove its listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Other companies such as Booking.com should also remove their listings in these settlements. Both companies need to go further and remove their listings in illegal settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and the Occupied Golan Heights.

The announcement preceded the release of a report by Human Rights Watch and Kerem Navot: Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land: Tourist Rental Listings in West Bank Settlements, and has come after years of pressure from numerous organisations and media outlets, including 972 magazine who produced an extensive report in January 2016 and Caabu who wrote to Airbnb in February 2016. Airbnb failed to reply. It also took Airbnb four months to reply to a November 2017 letter from MPs Julie Elliott, Chris Elmore, Lilian Greenwood, Graham Jones and Holly Lynch, who visited Palestine with Caabu and Medical Aid for Palestinians in September 2017. At the time, Airbnb said that they “have consistently argued against policies across the world that seek to restrict travel and have taken active steps to challenge barriers”.

The 51-year-old Occupation, including settlements, inflicts the greatest barrier to peaceful relations between Israelis and Palestinians, and imposes misery on those enduring it. It is vital that companies such as Airbnb adhere to international law, and do not themselves profit from an illegal Occupation – with these listingsconsidered illegal under international law as a breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and reinforced by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 446 (March, 1979).

Jess Phillips MP, who visited Palestine with Caabu and Medical Aid for Palestinians in February 2018 said:

“I’m glad Airbnb have made this decision. The settlements are in breach of international law and it makes a mockery when big companies ignore that for the sake of money.”

Lilian Greenwood MP who visited Palestine with Caabu and Medical Aid for Palestinians in September 2017 said:

“Airbnb’s response to our letter in November 2017 was very disappointing. Companies need to take a greater responsibility for their role in this world including in opposing illegal Occupation. Airbnb have now shown the way in a very welcome decision.”

Caabu’s Joseph Willits said:

“It is staggering that through Airbnb you were able to stay in the illegal Israeli settlement of Kfar Adumim, where settlers have long made the lives of the Bedouin Palestinian community of Khan al Ahmar a misery. Settlers there (together with companies such as Airbnb) could profit from this illegal occupation, whilst at the same time, the Israeli government is planning to demolish the homes and school of Khan al Ahmar and forcibly transfer the community which would constitute a war crime. Or you stay in the settlement of Bracha, infamous for settler violence, particularly directed towards the Palestinian village of Burin near Nablus. For every egregious human rights abuse, you could certainly find an Airbnb property to match. This positive step forward is not a moment too soon. This is not about boycotting Israel, but upholding international law. It is massively disingenuous for those to conflate ending such economic activity in territory which is not part of Israel to a boycott of Israel. It is time for more companies to follow suit, and end their operations in illegal settlements in the West Bank.”