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Airbnb removes Israeli West Bank settlements from site

The US based rental accommodation firm Airbnb announced its decision to remove Israeli settlements in the West Bank from their website, stating the settlements break international law and impede a peace solution. 

This move has been hailed by Palestinian groups as a positive first step whilst also being decried by Israeli organisations as an act of capitulation.

The UN Security Council deemed settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem violate international law in its resolution 2334. 

Israel however continues to dispute this and defend the settlement projects. Over 600,000 Israelis live within 140 settlements that have been build since Israel’s occupation began in the 1967 war.

In a statement Airbnb made clear that "US law permits companies like Airbnb to engage in business in these territories […] At the same time, many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced." 

Human Rights Watch has released a statement describing this decision “as an important recognition that such listings can’t square with its human rights responsibilities” and urging “other companies to follow suit”. They note that they had been speaking with the firm for over two years on this issue.

Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), Saeb Erekat, stated that it was "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".

Israeli Tourism Minister, Yariv Levin, described the move as "the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts". 

Similarly, the Yesha Council, an organisation representing Israeli settlers, has criticised Airbnb of becoming “a political site” and stating the decision was "the result of either anti-Semitism or capitulation to terrorism, or both".