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Airbnb Sued for Discrimination Over Removing West Bank Listings

Five American Jewish plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Airbnb last week in San Francisco, alleging the company’s policy to ban listings from Jewish West Bank settlements discriminates against Jews.

Two of the five plaintiffs also are Israeli citizens and live in the West Bank settlement of Efrat. The plaintiffs’ attorney Marc Zell said in a statement, according to the San Francisco CBS affiliate:

“Airbnb is eyeing the Israeli market to increase its offerings in the Middle East. It is inconceivable that Airbnb would at the same time alter its longstanding policy against complying with the anti-Semitic BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement by delisting Jewish/Israeli accommodations in Judea and Samaria, while continuing to permit Arab homeowners located literally across the road to participate in the Airbnb program,”

The lawsuit was filed last week in San Francisco, where Airbnb is based. It claims that Airbnb’s policy is discriminatory, because it applies only to West Bank Jewish residents and leaves untouched listings from Arab or Palestinian towns there.

Airbnb announced in November that it would delist 200 properties and cease its operations in Israeli settlements “that are at the core of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians”.

Subsequently, Airbnb removed properties in South Ossetia and Abhkazia, two autonomous areas in the republic of Georgia.

A bit of history, Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 during the 1967 Arab–Israeli War. And today, more than 400,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank.

However, majority of the international community look at the settlements as illegal and an impediment toward the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Israel is seeking to resolve this settlement through peace negotiations with Palestinians.

Airbnb’s decision drew allegations of anti-Semitism from Israeli, US politicians and US Jewish groups, who said the company was unfairly singling out Israel.

Source: The Times of Israel

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