Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said on Tuesday that Airbnb’s decision a day prior to pull some 200 listings from Israeli settlements in the West Bank, also known as Judea and Samaria, was “discriminatory” and “disgraceful.”
Levin criticized the hospitality giant, founded in 2008 to offer cheaper community alternatives to hotels and hostels with apartments for rent around the world, calling its decision to no longer host listings in Israeli settlements “miserable” and “a disgraceful surrender by the company,” according to a Tourism Ministry statement.
Levin ordered his office to formulate “immediate measures” to limit the company’s activity throughout the country, and to “implement a special program to encourage tourism and accommodation in vacation apartments throughout Judea and Samaria.”
On Monday, Airbnb posted a statement saying that the company has “wrestled” with the decision but that it “concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“As a global platform operating in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities, we must consider the impact we have and act responsibly,” Airbnb wrote.
The company has faced criticism and pressure from Palestinians who say the listings fail to mention that the property is land they claim as their own. Palestinian officials have urged Airbnb to join the boycott movement (BDS), and a Palestinian official called the move an “initial positive step.”