Israeli minister threatens to ban Amnesty International over Airbnb policy
Human rights group urges Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor to stop listing tourist accommodation in occupied territories
Jerusalem — A minister threatened to ban Amnesty International from Israel after the rights group on Wednesday accused Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor of profiting from “war crimes” by offering accommodation in settlements.
“Amnesty International, that hypocritical organisation that speaks in the name of human rights, is acting to promote a boycott of Israelis as part of a campaign of anti-Semitic delegitimisation,” said public security minister Gilad Erdan.
“I have instructed the ministry of strategic affairs to examine the possibility of preventing the entry of members of Amnesty to Israel,” he said. “A few weeks ago, I went to the finance ministry to ask it to cancel the tax benefits granted to the organisation,” he said, without providing further details.
Amnesty issued a report on Wednesday calling on Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor to stop listing tourist accommodation, activities and attractions in settlements in occupied territories.
“They are doing so despite knowing that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is governed by international humanitarian law under which Israeli settlements are deemed illegal,” it said.
“In doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law.”
The London-based human rights group accused the digital tourism giants of “normalising” settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
In November, Airbnb announced it was removing from its rental listings settlement homes in the occupied West Bank.
About 450,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements often in confrontation with the territory’s 2.5-million Palestinians, in addition to 200,000 living in settlements in occupied east Jerusalem.
Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law and major roadblocks to peace, as they are built on land Palestinians see as part of their future state.