On Monday, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the tourist rental company Airbnb would be reversing its previous decision to ban Jewish inhabited listings in the West Bank from their platform. However, in a statement shortly after, the company disputed that report.
“The reports issued earlier today are inaccurate,” the company said, according to The Hill.
Haaretz reported that Airbnb reversed that policy after company vice president Chris Lehane met with Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.
“Airbnb expressed its unequivocal rejection of the BDS movement and communicated its commitment to develop its business in Israel, enabling more tourists from around the world to enjoy the wonders of the country and its people,” the company said in a statement. “We are here to meet with a variety of stakeholders and as a result of our meetings have an even deeper understanding that this is an incredibly complex and emotional issue. Airbnb communicated that we are developing the tools needed to implement our policy and that process includes continuing our dialogue with the Government of Israel and other stakeholders.”
Before Airbnb disputed the Haaretz report, the tourism minister said that reversing the ban was “a step in the right direction,” adding that he would “continue to make sure all Israeli citizens get equal treatment, and keep on strengthening tourism in Israel.
The Times of Israel reports that the initial confusion regarding Airbnb’s alleged reversal of the ban began with Israel representative Yuval Lidor:
A spokeswoman for the Tourism Ministry said that the statement had been in response to one that she had received from Yuval Lidor, a representative of Airbnb in Israel.
But while Lidor had indeed issued a statement saying that the settlement boycott “would not be implemented in practice,” he later appeared to walk back that announcement, asking The Times of Israel to refer exclusively to the English press release from Papas — one that appeared to deny that Airbnb had changed its mind.
Last month, the tourism company made a controversial decision by announcing it would not list rentals in the West Bank because the settlements “are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“We know that people will disagree with this decision and appreciate their perspective. This is a controversial issue,” Airbnb said at the time. “There are many strong views as it relates to lands that have been the subject of historic and intense disputes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank.”
The Washington Free Beacon reports that Palestinians and groups that support the BDS movement celebrated Airbnb’s decision at the time.
“International companies are interested in doing business with the State of Israel, but are unwilling to accept the continued military control of millions of Palestinians,” said the group Peace Now in November. “If the government really wants to eliminate BDS—then it will end the occupation.”
As noted by The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, the ban specifically targeted Jews in the West Bank and nothing else. At the same time, it listed properties in countries with far greater human rights abuses on its record than Israel.
“If a Jew owns an apartment in East Jerusalem, that won’t be allowed for listing; if an Arab owns an apartment in the same neighborhood, it’s fine for listing,” Shapiro said at the time. “This is absurd. Airbnb lists apartments in Turkish-occupied Cyprus, the Moroccan-occupied Sahara, Chinese-occupied Tibet and Russian-occupied Crimea. Not only that, but Airbnb allows listings in a wide variety of countries without any democratic rights and with wildly discriminatory policies.”