NEW YORK: An Amnesty International report says travel sites are “driving settlement expansion” in Israeli settlements, a claim that has sparked outrage in Israel and among Jewish groups.
Human rights organization Amnesty International on Wednesday called for online travel sites to ban listings from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The London-based rights group’s report, titled “Destination: Occupation,” said rental sites Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor are promoting tourism in Israeli settlements within the Palestinian-occupied West Bank that most of the world considers illegal.
“Israel’s settling of Israeli civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violates international humanitarian law and is a war crime.”
Airbnb, Tripadvisor, Booking.com and Expedia “continue to operate in the settlements, and profit from this illegal situation.”
Airbnb has more than 300 property listings in Israeli settlements, Booking.com has 45 listings, and Expedia has nine accommodation providers including four large hotels.
TripAdvisor lists more than 70 different attractions, tours, restaurants, cafés, hotels and rental apartments
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, passed on November 22, 1967, called for the exchange of land for peace. Since then, many of the attempts to establish peace in the region have referred to 242. The resolution was written in accordance with Chapter VI of the UN Charter, under which resolutions are recommendations, not orders.
Israeli Cabinet Minister Gilad Erdan dismissed Amnesty International’s report ahead of its release.
“The report [Amnesty International] will release tonight on Israel is an outrageous attempt to distort facts, deny Jewish heritage and delegitimize Israel,” Erdan wrote on Twitter.
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) said it was disheartened by Amnesty’s report and called for the organization to return its focus back to human rights.
“If Amnesty wishes to involve itself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should center its attention on the real human rights abuses ongoing in Palestinian territories, and not attack corporate businesses who strive to bridge divides and build peace through global tourism and interaction,” said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer.
Airbnb backtracks: Airbnb announced last November that it would remove West Bank settlement listings from its platform, but has yet to do so. The company has said it is working to identify the “precise boundaries” of areas subject to the policy. The move was decried by Israel and praised by advocates of Palestinian rights when it was announced. The announcement saw the Simon Wiesenthal Centre place Airbnb on its end-of-year list of the “top 10 worst global anti-Semitic incidents.”
The Palestine-Israel conflict: Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, part of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War. More than 600,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinians want these areas and the Gaza Strip for their own state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital.