Amnesty international billboard.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Amnesty International has called on the four largest web vacation booking sites to boycott West Bank settlements, as well as Jewish listings in east Jerusalem, when providing travelers with tourism-related services.
“Online booking giants Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor are fueling human rights violations against Palestinians by listing hundreds of rooms and activities in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, including east Jerusalem,” Amnesty said in a report on tourism to east Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank that it issued Tuesday.
Amnesty included Airbnb on its list of four tourism booking companies targeted in its report, called “Destination: Occupation,” even though the company stated in November that it would no longer list vacation rentals in West Bank settlements on its website.
Amnesty took issue with Airbnb’s failure to include east Jerusalem in that decision, explaining that the company lists 100 Jewish properties in that section of the city.Airbnb has not fully enforced its settlements ban
and “currently has more than 300 listings of properties in settlements,” Amnesty said.
Airbnb and the other three companies, Amnesty said, are breaking international law and participating in a war crime.
Strategic Affairs and Public Safety Minister Gilad Erdan said he would consider banning non-Israeli Amnesty employees from Israel, if it continued its campaign against settlement tourism.
Erdan said that Amnesty International was “hypocritical” in that is spoke in the name of human rights but in practice it supported an antisemitic and delegitimization campaign against Israel.
Amnesty said that it was Israel which was in violation of human rights, and that companies that worked with it over the pre-1967 lines were complicit in those violations.
“Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor model themselves on the idea of sharing and mutual trust, yet they are contributing to these human rights violations by doing business in the settlements,” said Seema Joshi, Amnesty International’s director of global thematic issues.
“The Israeli government uses the growing tourism industry in the settlements as a way of legitimizing their existence and expansion, and online booking companies are playing along with this agenda. It’s time for these companies to stand up for human rights by withdrawing all of their listings in illegal settlements on occupied land. War crimes are not a tourist attraction,” he said.
Amnesty said the four tourist booking companies were in violation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
It issued its report in advance of the publication a blacklist of companies doing business over the pre-1967 lines by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The list, based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, presumes such commercial activity is criminal under international law.
The right-wing group NGO Monitor said, ""Precisely because tourism to Israel is at an all time high, Amnesty International is targeting this sector. Amnesty is specifically contesting Jewish historic connections to biblical sites, including in Jerusalem – reminiscent of UNESCO resolutions. In essence, Amnesty faults Israel for preserving Jewish historical and cultural heritage, as well as places that are holy to Christians."
It added, "in the foreground of Amnesty's campaign is a long history of antisemitism. Amnesty has tolerated blatant antisemitism within its own ranks and has treated antisemitism as the one form of discrimination not worth fighting against. Unsurprisingly, Amnesty is now fully embracing discriminatory BDS and singling out Israel. The timing is clearly aimed to coincide with the UN's upcoming BDS blacklist.”
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