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Palestinians call for NGOs to reject donations from Airbnb

May 17, 2019 at 10:42 am

Photo illustration of Airbnb is displayed on the screen of an iPhone placed on a map [Chesnot/Getty Images]

A coalition of Palestinian NGOs is urging local and international organisations to reject donations from Airbnb, in light of the company’s ongoing listing of homes in Israeli settlements.

According to a statement published on the site of Ramallah-based human rights group Al-Haq, the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organisations Network (PNGO-NET) issued the call after Airbnb reversed a previous decision to delist properties based in illegal settlements.

PNGO-NET, which includes 145 organisations based in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) working on a range of issues from development to human rights, stressed the significance of Israel’s “unlawful settlement of Palestinian territory”.

This policy, it stated, “is characterized by the confiscation of Palestinian land and natural resources, the obstruction of Palestinian movement due to checkpoints, the Annexation Wall, and other barriers, and the use of the OPT as a captive market for Israel.”

READ: Palestinians are suing the illegal Israeli settlers who list stolen property on AirBnB

Thus, Airbnb’s November 2018 announcement “that it would no longer list properties in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank” – while excluding settlements in East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights – was seen “as a step in the right direction in respecting the human rights of the occupied Palestinian population and towards fulfilling its responsibilities under international law”.

However, following legal action by Israeli settlers, on 9 April 2019, Airbnb announced a reversal in its position, saying it will continue to list the properties of settlers, but will donate the profits to NGOs “dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world”.

The Palestinian NGOs stated that

Airbnb donations effectively amounts to the proceeds of crime and will be amassed by the illegal policies and practices we seek to end.

“We call on all international and local NGOs to reject donations of money from Airbnb, until their policies ensure respect for the human rights of all people, including those living under occupation,” the statement added.

“Together, we must all work to end corporate complicity in human rights abuses; companies like Airbnb must know that our silence cannot be bought.”

READ: Airbnb reneges on decision to delist West Bank settlement properties