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Airbnb Cancels Ban on West Bank Listings, Opts to Donate Proceeds to Aid Groups

© AFP 2021 / Ahmad GharabliPart of the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem. Israel has approved 560 new homes for the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, a spokesman for the settlement said on July 4, 2016 in a move likely to raise tensions following a series of Palestinian attacks (File)
Part of the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem. Israel has approved 560 new homes for the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, a spokesman for the settlement said on July 4, 2016 in a move likely to raise tensions following a series of Palestinian attacks (File) - Sputnik International
Popular home-sharing company Airbnb is pulling back on its previous decision to bar and remove West Bank settlement listings from its website, a move that came as a result of a Monday court settlement between the company and a dozen US-Israeli citizens with homes in the area.

Rather than barring the listings, the company has indicated that it will instead donate any of its profits from the region to humanitarian aid organizations, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which obtained a copy of the settlement.

"Airbnb takes no position on the Host-Plaintiffs' claims, or others' claims, to legal title to the properties on which the accommodations are located," the court settlement reads. "All listings for accommodations located in the Affected Region [the West Bank] will at all times be permitted on its platform, subject to applicable laws, rules, and regulations."

Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s head of global policy and public affairs, was given a helicopter tour over Israel on Tuesday following the company’s decision to remove apartment rental listings from the occupied West Bank. - Sputnik International
Pro-Settlement Group Gives Airbnb Tour of Israel After West Bank Boycott

The San Francisco-headquartered company first announced in November 2018 that it would be removing roughly 200 home listings located in the West Bank, explaining in a statement at the time that "many in the global community have stated that… companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced."

Following a review of the matter, the company said, "we concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians."

"Our hope is that someday sooner rather than later, a framework is put in place where the entire global community is aligned so there will be a resolution to this historic conflict and a clear path forward for everybody to follow," the statement added.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. According to Haaretz, as of 2017, nearly 400,000 Israelis have settled in the West Bank, with roughly 40 percent living just outside of major settlement blocs. However, the nation's settlements are largely considered illegal, with the United Nations considering them a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Recently, Israeli authorities forced a Palestinian man to demolish his family's West Bank home or face massive fines, Sputnik reported. "Everything we made we put into this house, which we watched today crumble in front of our eyes and there was nothing we could do about it," Saleh Zreina told the Wafa news agency.

Part of the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank - Sputnik International
Israel Unleashes Fire & Fury on Airbnb for Banning Rentals in Occupied West Bank

Within days of Airbnb's announcement, the group of Israeli-American individuals filed a lawsuit against the company's move. The lawsuit, which was organized by the Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center, claimed that Airbnb was violating the US' Fair Housing Act on the basis of religion.

"The plaintiffs claimed that Airbnb was discriminating against them for being Jewish, given that it still allowed listings by Palestinian Muslims and Christians in the West Bank," the JTA report explained.

The Monday court settlement also saw Airbnb stating that it does not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which works to "end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians," through organized, peaceful pressure on Israel, according to the rights group.

"Airbnb is clear that it does not intend, and has never intended, to align itself with the BDS movement or to otherwise position the company as adverse to any segment of its community," court documents state.

Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu speaks to the media - Sputnik International
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Slams Netanyahu for West Bank Annexation Remarks
In related West Bank news, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated over the weekend that should he manage to win a fifth consecutive term as prime minister, he would work to extend Israeli sovereignty to settlements in the West Bank.

Earlier this year, US President Donald Trump signed a presidential order recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which was also seized during the Six-Day War. The move was widely condemned by global powers.

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