Amnesty takes Ireland to task over Airbnb activities in Occupied Palestine

Amnesty International has called on the Irish government to take regulatory action against Airbnb for its activities in illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. There is a strong connection between Ireland and the commercial activities of the digital tourism industry in occupied Palestinian territories, given that some of the world’s largest companies run considerable parts of their business through Ireland. The report Destination: Occupationpublished today, notes how Airbnb processes bookings, including those relating to Israel and Palestine, through a Dublin-domiciled company, Airbnb Ireland UC.

Airbnb is one of many companies that has allowed for bookings to be made in properties located in illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem (although it recently changed its policy regarding West Bank settlements other than those in East Jerusalem). Amnesty notes that the various companies conduct this business:

despite knowing that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is governed by international humanitarian law under which Israeli settlements are deemed illegal. In addition, key acts required for the establishment of settlements, such as the transfer of Israel’s population into occupied territory and the appropriation of property without military justification, amount to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Seema Joshi, Amnesty’s Director of Global Thematic Issues, has pointed out the impact of settlement actives on the Palestinian population:

Israel’s unlawful seizure of Palestinian land and expansion of settlements perpetuates immense suffering, pushing Palestinians out of their homes, destroying their livelihoods and depriving them of basics like drinking water. 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.

Amnesty has called on States to take appropriate measures to regulate such activities to prevent them from contributing to such illegal activity. In Destination: Occupation, the organisation makes the following call to the Irish government:

RECOMMENDATION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND

Take regulatory action to prevent Ireland-based companies, such as Airbnb Ireland (which handles all Airbnb business outside of the USA, China and Japan) from providing or facilitating the provision of tourism services, including holiday accommodation, activities and attractions, in illegal Israeli settlements or by settlers in the OPT.

Amnesty’s report also notes the proposed Irish legislation which seeks to prohibit the import of goods from illegal settlements in occupied territory. Describing the Bill as “significant”, Amnesty considers that the measures entailed in this legislation constitute one means of preventing companies from providing or facilitating tourism services in illegal settlements. The bill has not yet become law, but thus far has had majority support from Irish political parties across the spectrum.

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