Airbnb has reversed its decision to remove listings of Israeli settlement homes in the West Bank from its website.
Proceeds from bookings will be donated to international humanitarian aid organisations.
Airbnb announced the policy change after a court settlement organised by Shurat Hadin Law Center in Israel.
“We understand the complexity of the issue that was addressed in our previous policy announcement, and we will continue to allow listings throughout all of the West Bank, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region,” a statement noted.
“Any profits generated for Airbnb by any Airbnb host activity in the entire West Bank will be donated to non-profit organisations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world.”
Airbnb added it does not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel.
“Airbnb has always opposed the BDS movement,” the statement explained.
“Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform. We have always sought to bring people together and will continue to work with our community to achieve this goal.”
Shurat HaDin described the ruling as “a powerful defeat for the anti-Israel boycott movement” in a statement.
“The policy Airbnb announced last November was abject discrimination against Jewish users of the website,” said Shurat Hadin president Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. “Whatever one’s political view, discrimination based on religious affiliation should never be the solution.”
The holiday rental company announced only last November that it would delete listings of some 200 Israeli settlement homes.
Airbnb never actually removed the listings at the time, but Israel condemned the decision and challenged it in US jurisdictions.
Within a week of the decision, Shurat HaDin, who safeguard Jewish rights worldwide, took legal action on behalf of a group of American Jewish families, most owning properties in West Bank settlements, under the Fair Housing Act.
The Israeli lawsuit accused Airbnb of “outrageous discrimination” by “redlining” Jewish-owned properties while allowing Muslims and Christians to use the company’s service.
As Airbnb is based in the United States, it must abide by the act in listings worldwide.
Airbnb denied its West Bank delisting plan targeted Israel.
“Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform”, a company statement said.
Israel has yet to react to the decision, but Human Rights Watch said it was a “disappointing decision” in a statement.
“By continuing to do business in settlements, they remain complicit in the abuses settlements trigger,” they added.
By Leah Waxler