A global human rights group has called on tourism companies to stop listing properties in unlawful Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
A 65-page report carried out into tourist rental listings in settlements by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and an Israeli nongovernmental organization (NGO), Kerem Navot, revealed discriminatory practices and serious rights abuses towards Palestinians stemming from the settlements and urged other global companies to comply with the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
"By delisting rentals in illegal settlements off-limits to Palestinians, Airbnb has taken a stand against discrimination, displacement, and land theft," said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at HRW. "The continued business activities of Booking.com and other companies in settlements contribute to entrenching a two-tiered discriminatory regime in the West Bank," he said.
The report released a day after the home-rental company Airbnb, said it decided to remove the rental listings in Israeli settlements "that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians."
The house-sharing service said the move would affect some 200 listings in the West Bank. The company also said it previously allowed Israeli settlers in the West Bank to use Airbnb because it is permitted under U.S. law.
Waleed Assraf, head of a Palestinian anti-settlement group run by the PLO, welcomed Airbnb's decision. Should other companies follow suit, he told Reuters, "this will contribute to achieving peace."
The international community regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace. Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War and hundreds of thousands of Jewish-Israelis are now living in the territory, which is claimed by Palestinians for their future state.