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    Airbnb Sued in US Over Ban on Illegal Settlement Rentals in Israel

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    A group of 18 Americans sued Airbnb on Wednesday over the company’s decision to ban home rentals in the illegally occupied West Bank on November 19.

    Fair Housing Act by discriminating against the plaintiffs on the basis of religion. The plaintiffs are mostly dual US-Israeli citizens that own property in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and have hosted on Airbnb; some others are American citizens who want to rent a home there or have already.

    Airbnb continues to allow home rentals in Israel, as well as in East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, which like the West Bank the UN considers to be illegally occupied by Israel.

    Currently, Airbnb has over 20,000 hosts in "places like Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other parts of Israel," the company says.

    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.

    Human Rights Watch was scheduled to release a report on Airbnb's listings in the West Bank on November 20, one day after the company announced its decision to remove them. According to the report, Airbnb had listed 139 rental options in illegally occupied settlements in the West Bank, Sputnik News reported.

    The lawsuit "was organized by Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center," the Jerusalem Post reported. 

    Shurat HaDin founder and director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, who represents plaintiffs in the case, said, "Airbnb's new discriminatory policy has made it the poster child for the racist BDS movement," referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which seeks to pressure companies and governments into boycotting Israeli companies and institutions until the country complies with international law.

    "These Jewish American property owners were shocked by Airbnb's blacklisting of their homes and intend to legally fight this new hateful policy," she added.

    Ariel Gold, a Jewish American pro-BDS activist who was deported from Israel this year, told Sputnik News after the company's announcement, "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."

    "Israeli settlements are not only illegal under international law, but they contribute directly to the daily human rights abuses Palestinians face," she said.

    Since November 19, Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan has been calling on hosts on the platform to band together and sue Airbnb. On Wednesday, Sputnik News reported that Erdan is campaigning for governors in five US states, four of which have laws against participating in the BDS movement, to take action against the company.

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    Tags:
    lawsuit, Israeli occupation, Israeli settlements, apartheid, Palestine, Airbnb, West Bank
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