iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) — Airbnb said Monday that it would no longer allow listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The short-term home rental company said in a press release that it had previously allowed the listings – around 200 – as U.S. law permitted Airbnb to operate in the disputed territory, but that it had "wrestled with this issue and we have struggled to come up with the right approach."
After consulting experts, Airbnb said, it came up with a framework for its policy in disputed regions, which it said it would consider on a case-by-case basis. The framework takes into account safety risks, whether the listings contribute to human suffering and other factors.
There are still listings on the site for places to stay in Palestinian-controlled areas of the West Bank.
Israeli politicians blasted the decision.
Israel’s minister of tourism, Yariv Levin, told ABC News that the move was “a big shame” and “completely unacceptable.”
"It’s a double-standard decision that is unique only to Judea and Samaria and is not applied anywhere else in all over the world," Levin said, using Israel's terms for the West Bank. "We won’t accept it, we fight against it."
Human Rights Watch praised the decision, calling it a "breakthrough."
"Airbnb's decision to end its listings in illegal Israeli settlements is an important recognition that such listings can't square with its human rights responsibilities," Arvind Ganesan, the group's business and human rights director, said in a statement. "We urge other companies to follow suit."
Levin predicted apartment owners would pursue legal action in the United States, and he threatened to restrict Airbnb’s operations in Israel. “If this decision won’t be changed,” he said, “we’ll take every measure possible to restrict the operation of Airbnb here in Israel. There are no two Israels.”
Israel has controlled the West Bank and east Jerusalem since 1967 and has for decades built settlements there seen as illegal by most of the international community. Palestinians claim the territories as parts of a future Palestinian state.
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