A Green Party member of parliament in Ireland has filed a complaint against online accommodation and tourism giant AirBnB for listing holiday homes in the occupied West Bank as being in Israel, reported Irish Examiner.
Patrick Costello, Teachta Dála (member of parliament) for Dublin South-Central, wrote to the Advertising Standards Agency for Ireland (ASAI) accusing AirBnB of breaching the advertising standard code which states: "A marketing communication should not mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."
The ASAI registered the complaint over Airbnb on 28 July, after which the company had ten days to respond to the issues raised. A reminder is sent after the ten-day period.
Explaining his decision to file the charge, Costello says he found more than 20 examples of holiday homes in illegal Israeli settlements on OPT in the West Bank as being listed as being in Israel and warned the Irish Examiner we should not allow them to become "normalised" or we risk facilitating a "de facto annexation".
"The EU and the Irish government have consistently called the settlements illegal, and not recognised them as part of Israel, but without action the situation will never change," he said.
Israel's settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law.
Costello visited the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT) in 2014 to serve as a human rights observer with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), which aims to support Palestinians and Israelis in non-violent actions and to advocate for an end to the occupation.
There are now some 650,000 Israelis living in illegal Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law, with recent announcements of settlement expansion provoking condemnation from the international community.
Costello added: "We have labelling guidelines that reflect international law, this is one step to enforce them. Overall, enforcement of labelling guidelines, while positive, is a small step. In the absence of more significant action like passing the Occupied Territories Bill, we should still take every small step we can."
The DT also took to Twitter to explain his protest further as he questioning the company: "AirBnb know these listing are not in Israel, has acknowledged they are on occupied territory. So why are they describing them as in Israel in their listings, in contravention of EU labeling rules?"
He added: "This complaint simply seeks enforcement of EU labeling rules based on international law. Enforcement of labeling rules is a small step, in the absence of more significant actions like passing the Occupied Territories Bill we should still take every small step we can."
AirBnb know these listing are not in Israel, has acknowledged they are on occupied territory.
So why are they describing them as in Israel in their listings, in contravention of EU labeling rules? pic.twitter.com/UcSVy4PTAO
— Patrick Costello TD (@Costellop) August 10, 2020
Last year, Airbnb was accused of "complicity in the plunder of Palestinian refugee properties", in a report published by Who Profits, an independent research centre focused on exposing corporate involvement in the "ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands."
"Serving as a platform for showcasing the homes that once belonged to Palestinians, Airbnb plays a role in strengthening the Israeli hold over Palestinian refugee properties," Who Profits stated.