Booking.com adds travel warnings for West Bank settlements

JERUSALEM – Online travel agency Booking.com on Friday added warnings about entries in the Israeli-occupied West Bank after years of pressure from Palestinian officials and human rights groups.

The new warning urges customers looking for rental housing in Israeli settlements to read their government’s travel advisories before booking in the area “which may be considered conflict-affected.”

Foreign tourism companies like Airbnb, Booking.com and TripAdvisor have long stirred controversy for allowing West Bank settlers to offer rental housing without mentioning that these settlements are seen as violating international law. Many rental locations, from suburban settlements near Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem to far-flung outposts deep in the occupied territories, list their location only as Israel.

About half a million Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank, which Israel conquered in the 1967 Middle East War. The Palestinians aspire to these lands as part of a future independent state.

Human Rights Watch called Friday’s travel warning a “welcome step” to prevent customers from unknowingly ending up in illegal settlements. However, the group urged tourism companies to go further and remove their listings in West Bank settlements.

“The report itself does not end Booking’s contribution to serious rights violations,” said Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch director for Israel and Palestine. “The company should stop brokering rents in illegal settlements in places like the occupied West Bank.”

But stopping risks Israeli rebellion. Israel and its supporters have blamed those who support anti-Israeli boycotts, including the products made in the settlements, of anti-Semitism. Airbnb scraps its plan to remove listings in the settlements in 2019 after Lawsuits have been filed against it in the United States and Israel.

Booking.com’s security warning also appears for several other conflict-torn regions around the world, including the separatist Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/09/30/bookingcom-adds-travel-warnings-for-west-bank-settlements/ Booking.com adds travel warnings for West Bank settlements

Sarah Y. Kim

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