LONDON, Amnesty International (AI) described Airbnb reversal on a ban on illegal Israeli settlements listings as reprehensible, cowardly and shameful.
Mark Dummett, Amnesty International’s Business and Human Rights Researcher, said in response to Airbnb’s announcement that they will no longer be removing all listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank following a class action lawsuit by Israeli lawyers, that Airbnb’s decision to continue to allow accommodation listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is a reprehensible and cowardly move that will be another devastating blow for the human rights of Palestinians.
He said that this decision is a deeply shameful abdication of Airbnb’s responsibility as a company to respect international humanitarian and human rights law wherever they operate in the world. This includes Israel’s illegal settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It also exposes the hollowness of their claims to be a company that values human rights.
Dummett rejected Airbnb attempt to justify its action by stating they will donate the profits from these listings to charity.
That fails to change the fact that by continuing to drive tourism to illegal settlements they are helping to boost the settlement economy. In doing so, they are directly contributing to the maintenance and expansion of illegal settlements, a breach of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The AI official said that Airbnb had a clear opportunity to make the right decision to uphold human rights and use their influence to set a precedent in the tourism industry. Instead, they have chosen to bury their heads in the sand – ignoring blatant evidence that they are helping to fuel violations that cause immense suffering to Palestinians.
He explained that Airbnb’s reversal demonstrates why we can’t just rely on companies to take the right decisions, and that we need governments to fulfill their obligations by intervening and passing laws obliging their companies to respect human rights.
Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have repeatedly highlighted how online tourism companies that operate in settlements in the occupied West Bank are contributing to mass human rights violations. Over the past 52 years, the expansion of Israel’s settlements have pushed thousands of Palestinians out of their homes, destroyed their livelihoods, and deprived them of access to essential resources such as water and agricultural land.
Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency