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Airbnb to Permit Listings in Israeli Settlements in West Bank

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Airbnb is canceling an earlier plan to bar listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The home-sharing company announced in November that it would remove about 200 listings in the West Bank, which is territory claimed by Palestinians.

Moshe Gordon sits outside his guest house advertised on the Airbnb international home-sharing site in Nofei Prat settlement in the West Bank.
Moshe Gordon sits outside his guest house advertised on the Airbnb international home-sharing site in Nofei Prat settlement in the West Bank.

Airbnb announced this week it will now permit properties in Israeli settlements to be listed. The company also said it will donate all of the company's profits from West Bank properties to humanitarian aid organizations.

Airbnb said it will use the same approach in other disputed territories around the world, such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"We have always sought to bring people together and will continue to work with our community to achieve this goal," Airbnb said.

Supporters of Airbnb's initial plan expressed dissatisfaction.

Human Rights Watch said, "Donating profits from unlawful settlement listings … does nothing to remedy the human suffering." The rights group added that, "By continuing to do business in settlements," Airbnb remains active in the abuses settlements trigger."

Others, however, celebrated the news.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner directs the Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, a Tel Aviv-based Israeli rights group. She said, "I believe other companies considering boycotts are going to take real note of the mistake Airbnb made and refuse to act against Israel and the Jewish community."

Twelve home owners in the Jewish settlements brought legal action in U.S. federal court against Airbnb. All 12 are citizens of both Israel and the United States. The company's change in plans settles that case.

Lawyer Robert Tolchin represents the 12 American-Israeli citizens. He said, "As a provider of a service to the public, Airbnb is not permitted to refuse to provide services to selected religious groups to engineer who it thinks should be allowed to live where."

Airbnb Israel - a cat jumps at a guest house advertised on Airbnb international home-sharing site in Nofei Prat settlement at the West Bank.
Airbnb Israel - a cat jumps at a guest house advertised on Airbnb international home-sharing site in Nofei Prat settlement at the West Bank.

The initial plan did not affect about 20,000 other Airbnb listings throughout Israel, including listings in other disputed areas, such as east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Airbnb announced the change in plans late Tuesday Israeli time -- the same day as the country's legislative elections.

During the election campaign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that if returned to power, Israel would annex West Bank settlements. That would likely end the remaining hopes of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. Today, over 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank. About 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim both areas as parts of a future state.

I'm Jill Robbins.

Dee-Ann Durbin reported this story for the Associated Press. George Grow adapted her report for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

Words in This Story

approachn. a way for dealing with something

achieve – v. to carry out or successfully bring about

remedyn. a solution; a treatment of medicine

triggerv. to cause something to happen

annex – v. to add as an extra

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