Activists urge Airbnb users to shut accounts over Israeli settlements
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Activists urge Airbnb users to shut accounts over Israeli settlements

After Israeli pressure, the company last month reversed course and scrapped plans to ban Jewish listings in the West Bank

A home in the northern West Bank available for rent on Airbnb. (Samaria Tourism)
A home in the northern West Bank available for rent on Airbnb. (Samaria Tourism)

Campaigners on Wednesday called on supporters of the Palestinian cause to deactivate their Airbnb accounts, at least temporarily, to protest the vacation rental firm’s listings in settlements in the West Bank.

After Israeli pressure, the company last month reversed course and scrapped plans to bar homes in settlements from listing on the site.

The decision led to fresh anger from groups opposed to the settlements, which most countries consider illegal under international law.

A range of organizations including Jewish Voice for Peace and the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy have backed a call for an at least temporary deactivation, with organizers saying thousands had pledged to do so.

“Ultimately we would like Airbnb to reverse its decision but we know that won’t be easy,” Salem Barahmeh, executive director of PIPD, told AFP.

“But I think what we ultimately want to do is end this culture of impunity where international companies are allowed to be complicit in supporting war crimes and Israeli settlements that have been responsible for displacing Palestinians.”

Airbnb declined to comment, pointing instead to its statement from the April reversal.

That statement says that while the company will not ban settlement homes, it will give all profits from those listings to charities.

Campaigners say this does not stop the settlers from making profits.

Around 400,000 Israelis live in settlements that dot the West Bank and range in size from tiny hamlets to large towns. Another 200,000 live in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinians see the West Bank as part of their future state. Israel considers Jerusalem its unified capital, but Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their lawful capital.

The date of the Airbnb protest coincides with the Palestinian commemoration of what they call the Nakba, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their land in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.

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