Coalition Demands Airbnb End Illegal Rentals in the West Bank, Says Company Violates International Law in Supporting Israeli Settlements

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Americas & Asia

March 07, 2016

*Coalition Demands Airbnb End Illegal Rentals in the West Bank, Says Company Violates International Law in Supporting Israeli Settlements*

*SumOfUs, CODEPINK, American Muslims for Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace and Others Decry West Bank Vacation Rentals as Palestinians are Evicted from their Homes*

More than 140,000 people from around the world have joined with an international coalition of advocacy organizations including SumOfUs, CODEPINK Women for Peace, American Muslims for Palestine, the US Palestinian Community Network, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and Jewish Voice for Peace in demanding that Airbnb immediately end the illegal practice of listing properties in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank on its vacation rentals website.

View the petition HERE

According to international law and official US policy, Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal. The Israeli settlement enterprise is part of a decades-old military occupation that has confiscated 42% of Palestinian land for settlement construction, resulting in the loss of freedom of movement and other severe human rights abuses against the Palestinian people. By listing rentals in Israel’s illegal settlements, Airbnb facilitates and benefits from the transfer of Israeli civilians into occupied territory, which is forbidden under international law.

Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported that Airbnb had been allowing Israeli settlers in the West Bank to list their homes as “in Israel” with no mention that they are on occupied Palestinian land. In addition to misleading potential renters and aiding the Israeli government in laying permanent claim to all the land under its control, some of the proprietors have explicitly discriminated against people with Arab or Palestinians names, in direct violation of Airbnb’s stated policies.

A Human Rights Watch report published in January stated that businesses should withdraw from the settlements to end their complicity in "an inherently unlawful and abusive system that violates the rights of Palestinians." That same month, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, sent a letter to Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky warning that Airbnb is “effectively promoting the illegal Israeli colonization of occupied land."

The coalition has also launched a new microsite parodying Airbnb rental listings and calling attention to the the fact that the vacation rental company continues to list Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

View the microsite here:

http://airbnb.sumofus.org

“When someone vacations in settlement property they are directly funding occupation and the suffering of the Palestinian people,” said Kristin Szremski, American Muslims for Palestine’s director of media and communications. “Palestinians are not even allowed on the roads surrounding the settlements. These properties are not in keeping with Airbnb’s strict anti-discrimination policies and we ask Airbnb to remove all properties in Israeli settlements.”

"People around the world are waking up to the immorality of settlement profiteering, and it is unclear why Airbnb continues to risk its brand's reputation through its involvement in illegal activities in the Occupied West Bank." added Nancy Kricorian, CODEPINK Women for Peace.

“We are getting closer and closer to our Palestinian people’s liberation, so it is essential for Airbnb to know that it will be on the wrong side of history if it continues to support apartheid policies and violations of Palestinian rights,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, national coordinating committee member of the US Palestinian Community Network.

“July 2005 marked 10 years since Palestinian civil society issued a call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns to push companies to end their complicity in Israel’s military occupation and apartheid policies. There have been hundreds of BDS wins worldwide as activists have pushed institutions to reject business as usual with Israel until Palestinians achieve freedom, justice, and equality. Airbnb needs to do its part and stop profiting from settlements that have time and again been declared illegal and major impediments to justice for Palestinians and a sustainable peace,” said Ramah Kudaimi of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

“By listing properties in illegal Israeli settlements, Airbnb is profiting off of the ongoing displacement of Palestinians from their land and their homes,” explained Stefanie Fox, deputy director for Jewish Voice for Peace. “Airbnb’s policies that enable and incentivize the displacement of people from their homes, whether in Palestine or gentrifying cities around the world, are unacceptable. Airbnb should cease providing cover for Israel’s expansionism by normalizing the fact that settlers have built these homes on stolen land.”

“There’s no delicate way to say this: Airbnb’s rental suites are built on top of the ruins of Palestinian lives and livelihoods.” explained Sondhya Gupta, senior campaigner from SumOfUs.org. “By listing these homes, Airbnb is directly helping Israeli settlers legitimize their occupation of stolen land, contributing to the Israeli government's decades-long policies of occupation, discrimination, and dispossession. Adding insult to injury, Palestinian residents of the West Bank are effectively banned from renting these Airbnb homes.”