Since it believes that the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank were at the “core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”, therefore the US based online home and hotel rental firm Airbnb said it would remove from the region from its listings.
While the decision and the announcement has been welcomed by Palestinians, it has been termed as “shameful” by Israel and have threatened to take the company to court.
According to international law, it is considered that the West Bank settlements are illegal. But this is refuted by Israel.
Palestinian officials and human rights campaigners have on earlier occasions criticised the US firm for listing homes for rent in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
“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,” said Airbnb in a statement announcing the decision.
The company also 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,” after an evaluation of the situation.
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”, said Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO).
But the decision of the US firm has been criticised by Israel. Its Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said the deciosn of the company was “the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts”.
In response, Israel would support lawsuits by listers it the settlements against Airbnb in US courts, he said.
Airbnb was accused of turning into “a political site” by the Yesha Council, which represents Israeli settlers. It also said that the decision was “the result of either anti-Semitism or capitulation to terrorism, or both”.
A day after Airbnb announced its decision, a report on the examination of Airbnb’s business in the settlements is set ot be published by Human Rights Watch.
Hailing the decision as “a breakthrough”, the move by Airbnb was praised by the organisation on Twitter.
One of the most contentious issues in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is the issue of settlements.
Since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war, Israel has allowed the settlement of more than 600,000 Jews in the settlements.
The settlements are viewed as a barrier to a hoped-for Palestinian state on land which they occupy and a major obstacle to peace.
Such an argument by the Palestine is considered by Israel to be a pretext of not getting involved in direct talks. Israel further says that the peace accords signed with the Palestinians in 1993 should form the basis of the determination of the fate of settlements.
(Adapted from BBC.com)