U.S.-based home rental company, Airbnb Inc., has removed rental listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
“We 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,” Airbnb said in a statement released Monday on their site. The decision would affect around 200 listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Israel’s Tourism Minister Yariv Levin called the move by Airbnb “the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts.”
The boycott efforts are a reference to the movement to boycott or reject companies that are in support of, or based in Israel. It is unclear whether the minister is referencing BDS—Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions—the movement that has garnered the support of millions internationally against Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.
CGTN reached out to Airbnb for comment about whether their move was part of the BDS movement. There has been no response.
Palestinians have been lobbying Airbnb to delist the rental settlements and applauded the move by the company.
Lead Palestinian peace negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said “While we believe that this is an initial positive step, it would have been crucial for Airbnb to follow the position of international law that Israel is the occupying power and that Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute war crimes.”
During the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem. Following the capture, they began building settlements on the land. The Israeli settler population in east Jerusalem and the West Bank has grown to around 500,000.
Israel’s settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by most world powers.
The move by Airbnb comes ahead of a report by Human Rights Watch on the effects on human rights by the company’s business practices.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) November 19, 2018
“We know that people will disagree with this decision and appreciate their perspective. This is a controversial issue. There are many strong views as it relates to lands that have been the subject of historic and intense disputes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Airbnb has deep respect for those views,” the company said in its announcement.