Online bookings platform Airbnb on Monday denied a claim by Israel’s tourism minister that it had reversed a decision to stop listing accommodation in settlements in the West Bank.
Earlier on Monday, Israeli Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said on his Facebook page that the firm “will not enforce its decision to withdraw proposed bookings from its website”.
Last month, home-share company Airbnb Inc announced it would remove listings from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, prompting Israel to threaten legal action against the US company.
“We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians” the company announced in a statement.
“As a global platform operating in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities, we must consider the impact we have and act responsibly”Airbnb added to explain the decision at the time.
The company did not say when the decision would go into effect and the 200 some listings would be removed.
Airbnb’s announcement last month caused several Israeli ministers to lash out at the company, including Levin who threatened to take legal measures.
“We are also examining the possibility of imposing taxation on the company so that it will bear a heavy price for the decision,” Levin said.
Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan also attacked Aibnb, saying it represented “surrender” to the Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions organization.
Erdan called the move “an unfortunate decision that constitutes surrender to the anti-Semitic BDS organizations and is based on political considerations rather than business considerations.”
“National conflicts exist all over the world, and the heads of Airbnb will have to explain why they chose to take a racist political stance against some of Israel’s citizens,” he noted.
The Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal under international law as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state, which has proven to be one of the most difficult barriers to attempted peace processes.
Despite international law designating illegality of the Jewish settlements, Israel differentiates between settlements it has approved and those it has not. Those without approval are referred to as outposts and are typically populated by hard line religious nationalists who see the entire West Bank as part of Israel.
AFP contributed to this report