This week Amnesty International reported several booking websites have been facilitating business for illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Amnesty investigators have found the online companies are making profits from ‘war crimes’. The report further states this is ‘fuelling human rights violations against Palestinians’ which ‘perpetuate immense suffering’.
Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor all allow tourists to book accommodation built on Palestinian territory online. Airbnb has previously committed to removing accommodation in the occupied West Bank as the bookings breached its own anti-discrimination policy in the United States and the European Union.
As of this week, Airbnb was still listing more than 300 properties in settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Airbnb were not alone on this, with Booking.com also listing 45 hotels and rentals. The other companies, Expedia and TripAdvisor are also advertising tourist attractions in settlements. These business activities breach the responsibilities outlined in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Tourism has played a key role in the financing and legitimating of Israel’s illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. These settlements have been repeatedly found to constitute a war crime under the rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention – which 196 states are signed up to.
This week Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, spoke of the illegal settlements as part of Israeli lands – contradicting the Geneva Convention.