The Middle East crisis between Israel and Palestine has also engulfed online marketplaces. The curious case is that of Airbnb, which has been fighting a litigation concerning its 200-odd listings in the disputed and Israel-occupied West Bank region since November last year.
The online holiday rental portal has been put in a ‘to be or not to be situation’, that questions the legitimacy of the listings on land that is “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”. There is, however, another important question: Whether it is legitimate for settlers to make money by renting out their properties on disputed land?
Airbnb admits that it is a controversial issue.
For years, human rights organisations, Palestinian activists and their supporters had urged Airbnb and other companies to stop doing business in the occupied West Bank. Amnesty International had singled out tourism giants Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor in a recent report, saying that they were profiting from “war crimes” by offering services to Israel’s illegal settlements. The report stated that “in doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law”. It, therefore, called on “governments worldwide [to] take action to regulate companies or activit