After Airbnb, Booking.com asked to remove West Bank listings

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Home-rental platform Airbnb announced Monday it would no longer offer its service in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, drawing an angry response from Israel.

Airbnb, the best known home-renting company in the world, bowed to Palestinian demands yesterday and said that it would erase such properties from its list in the coming days.

Two years after +972 exposed Airbnb's operations in West Bank settlements, the company has announced it will be pulling all settlement listings from its site.

There are an estimated just over 200 listings in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered a violation under worldwide law, as reaffirmed in United Nations Security Council resolution 2334, as well as one of the primary obstacles to peace.

"In this respect, there is no distinction between this part or that part of the State of Israel", he said, asserting that the West Bank, which Israel has never annexed, should also fall under the anti-boycott protection.

The home rental giant made the decision because it believes the settlements are at the "core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians".

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Minister for Tourism Yariv Levin lambasted the website as "discriminatory" and called for retaliation to "limit the company's activity throughout the country", according to local newspaper the Times of Israel. "But once the fallout dies down, the impact Airbnb's new policy will have on the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be negligible", Magid stressed.

In the past, Airbnb has been criticised by activists for allowing such listings and Palestinians have welcomed the move and Israel has called it "shameful".

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel, in turn, accused the rental company of hypocrisy, saying that it "operates in the darkest dictatorships in the word and preaches morality to us". "Kudos", she wrote on Twitter, adding that the decision came on the eve of the release of a HRW report into "human rights harms of #Airbnb business in settlements".

Palestinian activists and proponents of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement have long lobbied Airbnb to end its work in the Jewish-only settlements, which are illegal under global law.

On Monday afternoon, several listings in Israeli settlements were still available on Airbnb's website, MEE found. I call on Israelis to come and have a vacation in Judea and Samaria. Settler council Yesha agreed that the company's actions "can only be a result of anti-Semitism or surrendering to terrorism - or both".

Arvind Ganesan, the business and human rights director at the organisation, said Airbnb's decision was "an important recognition that such listings can't square with its human rights responsibilities".

Michael Oren, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. and current deputy minister in PM Netanyahu's office, called for a revenge boycott, deeming AirBnB's policy "the very definition of anti-Semitism".

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