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Airbnb faces Israeli lawsuit for delisting illegal settlements

Nov. 23, 2018 5:12 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 29, 2018 2:47 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli settler, who in the past advertised an apartment for rent on Airbnb, filed a request at the Jerusalem District Court for a class-action lawsuit against the home-renting company for removing its listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Maanit Rabinovich, an Israeli settler from the illegal Kida settlement, said in her filing request that the Airbnb’s decision to remove listings located in the Israeli settlements in the West Bank constitutes “severe, offensive and extremely outrageous discrimination on the basis of place of residence, country of origin and opinion.”

Rabinovich claimed 15,000 shekels ($2,573) in personal damages. The class action lawsuit would seek an as yet unspecified sum on behalf of others in the same situation, according to court papers presented at Jerusalem District Court.

The lawsuit accuses Airbnb of claiming that its policy was directed broadly at conflict zones, while it “actually is policy directed solely at those living in settlements in Israel in Judea and Samaria.”
An Airbnb spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.

On Monday, Airbnb decided to remove about 200 listings in Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, in the West Bank.

Airbnb said in a statement, "We 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."

Palestinians, who want to establish an independent Palestinian state, welcomed Airbnb’s move, including Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee members, such as Saeb Erekat.

Erekat said “Israeli settlements are not just an obstacle to peace but defy the very definition of peace.”

The estimated 196 government recognized Israeli settlements scattered across the Palestinian territory are all considered illegal under international law.

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