By Edo Konrad and Yael Marom
Airbnb announced that it would pull listings from settlements in the occupied West Bank on Monday evening. The decision comes two years after +972 and Local Call revealed that the San Francisco-based vacation rentals company included apartments, cottages, and caravans located on West Bank hilltops, while making no mention of the fact that they are in settlements on occupied land.
All Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law.
Among the vacation properties available for rent on the site are a number in settlement outposts considered illegal even under Israeli law, some of which are situated on stolen, privately-owned Palestinian land. The 2016 investigation also found that many property owners were discriminating by refusing to rent to prospective Arab guests, which violates company policy.
In the weeks and months following the publication of the investigation and the attention it garnered in the international media, activist groups and human rights organizations targeted the company with an international campaign, #StolenHomes. The campaign, which gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures, demanded Airbnb stop profiting off the settlements and the occupation.
A statement on Airbnb’s website said: “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.” The company has yet to announce just when the listings will be taken down. At the time of publishing, one can still find units for rent all across the West Bank.
Following the announcement, Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin ordered his ministry to take steps to restrict Airbnb’s operations across the country, while Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said Airbnb hosts harmed by the decision should file lawsuits against the company in accordance with Israel’s anti-boycott law.