Human rights organization amnesty international has accused four online booking agencies of violating palastinians’ rights by offering services in israeli settlements. Amnesty explicitly named airbnb, booking.Com, expedia and tripadvisor.
"They claim human rights violations of palastinians by listing hundreds of rooms and activities in israeli settlements on occupied palastinian land, including east jerusalem," read the statement released on wednesday.
Israeli strategic affairs minister gilad erdan to take action against amnesty international staff in light of report. He had instructed his ministry to look into the possibility of banning them from entering israel and staying in the country. He had already asked the minister of finance a few weeks ago to cancel tax subsidies for the organization. "I will not allow harming the israeli burghers who live in judaa and samaria (west bank) and on the golan heights and in jerusalem," said erdan.
Amnesty wrote in the report: "online booking agencies demand tourism in illegal israeli settlements, contributing to their existence and expansion."The settlement of the occupied palastinian territories is to be classified as a war crime. "Nevertheless, these four companies continue to operate in the settlements and profit from this illegal situation."
A spokeswoman for tripadvisor said wednesday that it understands "this is a sensitive issue with cultural and political implications.". The fact that a company is listed on tripadvisor "does not imply any endorsement or support of that company on our part". They provide listings as a platform for guests "to share their own experiences with other travelers". She explained: "for this reason, we do not remove listings of companies or businesses that remain active and open."
Booking.Com shared: "the mission of booking.Com is to enable people to experience the whole world. We allow all accommodation providers worldwide to list them on our platform as long as they comply with applicable law. The way we display information is always in accordance with local laws in order to provide transparency to all those seeking accommodation on our website."
A spokeswoman for expedia said they are reviewing the report. Airbnb did not initially respond to a request for comment.
Saeb erekat, secretary general of the palastinian liberation organization PLO, called on the united nations to "publish a list of companies involved in the israeli occupation.". He called for international guidelines to ensure that foreign citizens and companies do not support israeli settlements.
Airbnb had said in november it was removing accommodation in israeli settlements from its listings because they were in the "center of the dispute between israelis and palastinians". In both israel and the u.S., affected parties subsequently filed discrimination lawsuits against airbnb. The wiesenthal center included airbnb on its list of the world’s ten worst anti-semitic incidents in 2018.
Israel conquered the west bank and east jerusalem, among other places, during the 1967 six-day war. There are now more than 600,000 israeli settlers living in more than 200 settlements. The palastinians want to establish an independent state on the territory. The 1980 annexation of east jerusalem is not internationally recognized.