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Booking.com to add warning to properties in illegal Israeli settlements

Booking a stay at an illegal Israeli settlement?

The online hotel reservation site, Booking.com, is set to include a warning on all properties in the occupied West Bank owned by Israelis and settlers, which will make users aware of risks to safety and human rights concerns in the areas they plan to visit and stay at.

In a statement on the website, it said "Our goal is to make it easier for every person to experience the world. In accordance with this goal, we are attempting to ensure that our clients have information needed in order to make decisions about destinations they wish to visit."

The service clarified that "certain areas in the world affected by conflict may pose a greater risk to travellers, so we provide our customers with information to help make decisions and encourage them to check their government's official travel guidelines as part of the decision-making process."

While the warning has not officially been revealed yet, media outlets have reported it will state that "visiting the area may be accompanied by an increased risk to safety and human rights, or other risks to the local community and visitors." It is reportedly set to be issued within a few days.

The warning will be in all languages used by the site, but the Israeli television program, Hatzinor, reported that the English version will include the word "occupied". Booking.com is also reportedly considering applying the warning to properties in occupied East Jerusalem.

READ: Booking.com lists united Jerusalem as city in Israel

Following the announcement, Israeli Tourism Minister, Yoel Razvozov, held an urgent meeting and released a statement saying that his Ministry will put pressure on the reservation service to reverse the move.

"A business will not dictate to us what area is Israel and what area isn't," Razvozov stated. "We intend to act with all the means at our disposal to reverse this decision." He also said that it may counter by launching a marketing campaign to attract tourists to the occupied areas.

Oded Ravivi, the local council head of the illegal settlement, Efrat, condemned Booking.com as "the one violating human rights, particularly the right of Palestinians to earn a living with dignity and their right to participate in the reality of normal life on the ground."

Over the years, Tel Aviv has been harsh in its backlash against any attempts by international travel reservation services to pull out their operations from the occupied Palestinian territories and Jewish-only settlements which are illegal under international law. Such a backlash was seen in 2018, when Airbnb removed listings of settlement properties from its site and drew condemnation from Israel, before the company betrayed its decision the following year.

READ: Israel orders expulsion of more Palestinian families from land near Jerusalem

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