Airbnb, the online marketplace and hospitality service, announced yesterday that it will no longer permit listings on its site from Judea and Samaria. A company statement alleges that “Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank… are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Given that statement, one might reasonably expect that similarly contested land would also be included in Airbnb’s new policy; however, you would be wrong. Airbnb does not list tens of properties in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus for example, where all Greek inhabitants were ethnically cleansed and their homes expropriated.

Airbnb has not made it clear whether their plan ban listings in disputed territories will stretch to other parts of Israel, such as the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem; claimed as occupied land by Syria and the Palestinians respectively. The company’s action would also seem to go against its own rules on signing up to use the service, which states, “I agree to treat everyone in the Airbnb community – regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age- with respect, and without judgment or bias.”

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It is ironic, because Airbnb, which was established in 2008 and has a reported revenue of $2.6 billion, introduced the “community commitment” after a slew of complaints of discrimination against blacks, Israelis, Palestinians and other groups in 2016. Class-action suits were filed against the company, by people claiming that they were denied a place to stay because of their race. In March of that year, an Israeli man said an Airbnb host had refused to rent him a London apartment because he was told that “Israelis don’t respect human rights.”

Israel’s former Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren called out Airbnb for its anti-Semitism.

Airbnb posted a notice about the policy change on its website, explaining that at issue were some 200 listings. It noted that it had wrestled with the pros and cons of the situation before coming to a decision. It is unclear if one of the cons discussed is whether this policy change is actually legal.

“There are conflicting views regarding whether companies should be doing business in the occupied territories, which are the subject of historical disputes between Israelis and Palestinians,” the company said.

Source: Israel in the News