Confusion over Airbnb's 'U-turn' on removing West Bank settlement listings

Airbnb denies Israeli minister's claim that it had reversed a decision to stop listing properties in the occupied territories


There was confusion after Airbnb denied a claim by Israel’s tourism minister that it had reversed a decision to stop listing accommodation in settlements in the occupied territories. 

Yariv Levin announced on Monday that the online bookings platform said it “will not enforce its decision to withdraw proposed bookings from its website”.

However Airbnb later denied this was true and issued a statement that said: “The information published earlier today was inaccurate.”

The home-rental company said in November that approximately 200 homes in the West Bank would be taken offline after it had considered whether their existence was “contributing to existing human suffering”.

But on Monday Airbnb announced — in Hebrew — that it has suspended the decision after sending a senior delegation to Israel to negotiate with Mr Levin.

In a statement following the meeting Airbnb said: "Our policy will not be implemented. The company will continue its dialogue with the Israeli government."

Airbnb issued a later English statement saying the first one had been "released in error" by staff in Israel.

The home rentals website said that it was still “developing the tools needed to implement our policy and that process includes continuing our dialogue with the Government of Israel and other stakeholders."

It added that the purpose of the trip to Israel was to “meet with a variety of stakeholders and as a result of our meetings have an even deeper understanding that this is an incredibly complex and emotional issue."

The meeting followed an intense period of lobbying by the Israeli government.

Earlier this month Gilad Erdan, Israel’s strategic affairs minister, contacted the governors of New York, California, Illinois, Missouri and Florida to urge them to “speak out… and take any other relevant steps, including in relation to commercial dealings” with Airbnb.

Mr Erdan characterised Airbnb’s decision as part of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and described it as a “modern form of antisemitic practice”.

The home rentals company denied this, insisting it does not support boycotts of Israel or Israeli companies and pointing out it still operates in Israel itself.

Airbnb said it delisted the West Bank properties after deciding that they “are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

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