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    General view of houses of the Israeli settlement of Givat Ze'ev, in the occupied West Bank February 7, 2017

    Israeli Minister Urges US Governors to Punish Airbnb for Settlement Delistings

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    Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who heads the government’s response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, wrote a letter to five US governors asking them to take action against the home-renting service Airbnb after the company removed listings on its platform for properties in the illegally occupied West Bank.

    Israeli listings in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which are also illegally occupied, were left in place.

    Erdan responded almost immediately to Airbnb's decision by condemning it as "racist."

    "US law permits companies like Airbnb to engage in business in these territories," the company said in a statement at the time. "At the same time, many in the global community have stated that companies should not do business here because they believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced."

    "It is thanks to the hard work of activists in this coalition and around the world that Airbnb will no longer be profiting from Israeli apartheid in the West Bank," Ariel Gold, national co-director of the anti-war group Codepink and pro-BDS activist, told Sputnik News following Airbnb's announcement. "Israeli settlements are not only illegal under international law, but they contribute directly to the daily human rights abuses Palestinians face."

    Airbnb's move came just one day before Human Rights Watch was scheduled to release a report on home rentals facilitated by Airbnb and Booking.com in the West Bank, which the UN considers to be illegally occupied by Israel.

    Human Rights Watch map shows former Airbnb rentals in the illegally occupied West Bank with red dots, blue dots to signify current rentals on Booking.com.
    Human Rights Watch map shows former Airbnb rentals in the illegally occupied West Bank with red dots, blue dots to signify current rentals on Booking.com.

    Erdan called on former hosts on the platform to band together and sue Airbnb following the announcement of the company's decision. He also promised to complain to senior officials in the US and ask them to check whether Airbnb's move violates laws against boycotting Israel that "exist in over 25 states," Sputnik News reported.

    In Erdan's letter to the governors of Illinois, New York, Florida, Missouri and California, he said Airbnb had adopted "the anti-Semitic practices and narrative of the boycott movement." Of the five states the governors represent, four have laws against the BDS movement, the exception being Missouri. Airbnb is headquartered in California. 

    According to the Israeli TV news outlet Kan, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner requested the state's investment board to consider divesting from Airbnb, while Florida's incoming Governor Ron DeSantis vowed to take similar action.

    Erdan's letter forebears a government-wide Israeli response to the de-listings from an inter-ministerial committee comprising officials from Erdan's Strategic Affairs Ministry as well as the ministries for foreign affairs, tourism, justice, finance and economy.

    While Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin called last week for a "special and high tax" on Airbnb, such an action could wind up hurting the owners of the 22,000 Israeli homes that are allowed to continue renting on the platform, something officials would prefer to avoid.

    Meanwhile, lawyers in Israel have already heeded Erdan's call, filing a class action lawsuit against the company last Thursday on behalf of illegal West Bank settlers.

    Related:

    Airbnb Faces Class Action Lawsuit in Israel over Settlement Delistings
    Next For BDS? Human Rights Watch Pressures Booking.com to Follow Airbnb
    Airbnb Boycott in West Bank Harms Muslims as Well as Jews - Former Israeli Envoy
    Israel Unleashes Fire & Fury on Airbnb for Banning Rentals in Occupied West Bank
    ‘No Longer Profiting from Apartheid’: Airbnb Bans Rentals in Occupied West Bank
    Airbnb Bans Host Who Told Hijabi Woman She Wouldn't 'Fit Into' Neighborhood
    Airbnb Clashes With Paris Housing Chief Over Ban Threat – Reports
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    Tags:
    Airbnb, Israeli settlements, apartheid, Israeli occupation, Israel
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