Airbnb lists illegal Israeli settlements

Read time 1min 40sec

Accommodation Web site Airbnb has been found listing dozens of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land as being inside the state of Israel.

The settlements, which include Efrat, Ma'ale Rehavam, and Tekoa, are considered illegal under international law, falling beyond the "green line" defined by the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria after the 1948 Palestine war.

Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas told The Guardian that the Web site incorporates users' choice into their location listings, which run on Google Maps, in that users can choose to edit the address automatically suggested by Google. In some cases, Google does not automatically suggest a country, Papas offers.

While Papas alleges that the Web site follows "laws and regulations on where we can do business, and investigate[s] concerns raised about specific listings", he refuses to clarify which laws and regulations the Web site prioritises in locations in which both Palestine and Israel claim jurisdiction.

Another Airbnb spokesperson, Peter Huntingford, refused to tell Al Jazeera whether incorrect listings on illegal Israeli settlements would be targeted for investigation.

The Web site is being called out by many for essentially profiting from the illegal seizure of Palestinian land.

"It's illegal and criminal," says Husam Zomlot, ambassador at large for Palestine. "This Web site is promoting stolen property and land."

Hosts of this illegal property also stand to profit by as many as thousands of rand per night.

In addition to falsely representing their property's location, numerous hosts misrepresent safety and security information, posting photos of lush gardens and lavish furnishings, making no mention of safety concerns such as the military security checkpoints guests may have to pass through on their way to the properties.

Michelle Avenant
portals journalist.

Michelle Avenant is ITWeb portals journalist.

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