Florida puts Airbnb on notice over move to delist settlements
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Florida puts Airbnb on notice over move to delist settlements

Company insists ‘we unequivocally reject and oppose the BDS movement,’ says it is ‘disappointed’ by state cabinet vote

An Airbnb office in Toronto. (Wikimedia/Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler/CC0 public domain)
An Airbnb office in Toronto. (Wikimedia/Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler/CC0 public domain)

JTA — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and his cabinet voted on Tuesday to place Airbnb on the state’s list of scrutinized companies over its decision to remove listings of rooms and homes for rent in West Bank settlements.

The company has 90 days to respond; after that the state could move to ban the state’s pension fund from investing in the company if it goes public.

Airbnb is not publicly traded but reportedly is planning to go public as early as June, or at least by 2020, according to trade publications.

The state cabinet took the decision following a recommendation by the State Board of Administration.

“This is not a policy that applies to all these disputed territories even-handedly. It singles out Israeli Jews in the West Bank. It does not apply the same de-listing to Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank, and that is wrong and that runs afoul of Florida law,” DeSantis said in announcing the decision.

A home in the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, which rents out to customers using Airbnb. (Meni Lavi)

DeSantis also has ordered state employees to not stay at Airbnb homes while traveling on state business.

Airbnb responded to Tuesday’s vote, saying in a statement: “We unequivocally reject and oppose the BDS movement and are disappointed by today’s vote.” It also noted that over 20,000 Airbnb hosts in Israel have welcomed 1 million guests.

Airbnb announced in November that it would remove the listings of some 200 apartments and homes for rent in the settlements, but not in Palestinian communities. The company said it consulted with experts to learn about the historical disputes in the region to decide whether it should be doing business in “the occupied territories.”

Airbnb operates in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities. Last week it announced that it would delist two contested Russian-backed autonomous areas in the republic of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abhkazia.

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