Booking.com intends to issue a warning for accommodation in the occupied West Bank

JERUSALEM: Online travel agency Booking.com said Monday it would add disclaimers to listings in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, becoming the latest foreign company to join one of the world’s most contentious debates.

Booking.com said customers booking accommodation in Israeli settlements should be aware that they are traveling to a “contested, conflict-affected or high-risk” area which “may pose a greater risk”. Is is.”

According to the Associated Press, the company is still working on security warning language for the Israeli-occupied West Bank and certain other areas of the world. It was not specified when the alert would go into effect.

The move comes at a time when violence in the West Bank has killed at least 85 Palestinians in Israeli raids on towns and villages this year. The Israeli army said on Monday that a vehicle caught fire as it drove through a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank. No injuries were reported.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Most of the world views settlements built on land occupied by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war as a violation of international law. In the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, there remain 700,000 Jewish settlers. These lands were requisitioned by the Palestinians as part of a future independent state.

Online travel agencies such as Airbnb and Booking.com have long been under pressure from Palestinian authorities, activists and human rights organizations to remove their listings from the country.

But if they do, they run the risk of angering Israel. There have been accusations of anti-Semitism by Israel and its supporters, who support an anti-Israel boycott, including products made in the settlements. After lawsuits in the US and Israel, Airbnb scrapped plans to restrict settlement listings in 2019.

Ben & Jerry’s was embroiled in a similar controversy. Last year, the Vermont company sparked outrage in Israel when it announced it would no longer sell its products in the occupied West Bank.

However, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is said to be available again in the occupied territories after parent company Unilever sold the brand’s Israeli business to a local licensee.

Booking.com’s announcement focuses on safety rather than legality or legality of regulations. According to some Israelis, the disclaimer demonstrated that Israel’s pressure had paid off.

This shows that Booking.com has taken notice of the huge losses that Airbnb and Ben & Jerry’s themselves have suffered in boycotting Israeli-controlled territories,” said Eugene Kontorovich, director of the Kohlet Policy Forum’s international law department. A conservative Israeli think tank. “At the same time, they want to throw a bone at anti-Israel activists.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the United States, hailed the travel advisory as a move to “acknowledge the reality of corporate and human rights abuses.” man” and urged other foreign companies to follow suit. demand. demand.

Booking.com said its safety banner for the West Bank would be similar to the safety banner currently displayed in Ukraine or Cyprus. The Alert for Ukraine website warns travelers of “heightened customer safety risks at this location” and advises them to “review travel guidelines for the region provided by your government”.

The company declined to say whether the warnings would also apply to Palestinian properties in the West Bank, such as those in Hebron and Ramallah.

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