On Monday, Airbnb announced it will remove listings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The decision came after the home-renting company acknowledged that the illegality of settlements are "at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians." According to CNN, some 200 Airbnb listings would be affected once the decision comes into effect.
"We are most certainly not the experts when it comes to the historical disputes in this region. Our team has wrestled with this issue and we have struggled to come up with the right approach," the company said in a statement.
Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law. The United Nations (UN) and many countries around the world continually condemn the expansion of settlements, which demolish homes and steal lands from Palestinians.
"Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land"
Israel's Tourism Minister Yariv Levin denounced Airbnb's decision, calling it "the most wretched of wretched capitulations to the boycott efforts."
Levin also said that since Israel was not informed of the decision prior to the announcement, it plans to file suit against Airbnb in U.S. courts, according to Reuters.
On Tuesday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said "Airbnb's decision to end its listings in Israeli settlements is an important recognition that such listings can't square with its human rights responsibilities."
"We urge other companies to follow suit."
HRW also released a 65-page report titled "Bed and Breakfast on Stolen Land" detailing how companies like Airbnb and Booking.com list and facilitate the rental of properties in settlements in the occupied West Bank.
It also provides information on the 139 properties Airbnb has listed in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank between March 2018 and July 2018 and how Palestinian landowners are affected by such activity.
"The landowners did not consent to have their land used for rental properties, they do not share in the rental profits, and they cannot even stay in the homes that are being rented on their land, let alone build their own rental properties there," the report explains.
People on social media are hailing the decision
"A first step in the right direction"
In 2016, activists protested Airbnb's listings in illegal Israeli settlements
In 2016, a protester crashed an interview with one of Airbnb's board members at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York.
As other activists protested outside, Ariel Gold snuck into the event and took the stage, disrupting the interview as she held a sign that said "Airbnb hosts apartheid," protesting the company's decision to allow users to list properties in illegal Israeli settlements.
"Our goal was to ensure that conference goers were aware that Airbnb lists homes in illegal settlements built on Palestinian land, and that there is a constituency of human rights activists, including Jewish Americans, that are asking Airbnb to withdraw from the settlements," Naomi Dann, another protester, told TechCrunch at the time.
According to a 2016 report by HRW, "Israeli settlements in the West Bank violate the laws of occupation."
In the report, the rights organization explained that it "is not calling for a consumer boycott of settlement companies, but rather for businesses to comply with their own human rights responsibilities by ceasing settlement-related activities. Moreover, consumers should have the information they need, such as where products are from, to make informed decisions."
According to 2016 numbers, there are more than 200 Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The settler population there is estimated to be upwards of 600,000 according to B'Tselem.
In the United Nations Security Council resolution 446, adopted on 22 March 1979, the Security Council stresses that: "the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."
Even though these settlements are considered illegal by international law, Israel allows the planning and construction of more settlements to this day.