Booking.com to warn users reserving occupied West Bank properties

A view of the Jewish settlement of Efrat on the southern outskirts of Bethlehem (Ahmad Gharabli - AFP)

Al-Jazeera  /  September 19, 2022

Israeli TV outlet says the website will add a safety guidance to bookings in the West Bank that will include the word occupied.

The online travel booking website Booking.com will start adding safety guidance to all reservations in the occupied West Bank across its platforms, an Israeli television outlet has reported.

The guidance will also refer to the West Bank as “occupied”, Channel 13’s Hatzinor program claimed. Moreover, similar guidance is being debated for properties in occupied East Jerusalem, the program added.

During the 1967 war, Israeli forces occupied all of historic Palestine and expelled 300,000 Palestinians from their homes. Illegal Jewish settlements continue to grow in the occupied West Bank.

However, many international companies continue to do business in the West Bank, despite a growing international trend towards more ethical business practices.

Booking.com, which removed a reference to Jerusalem as an “Israeli settlement” in 2018, will now add a label that says: “Visiting the area may be accompanied by an increased risk to safety and human rights or other risks to the local community and visitors.”

“Certain areas in the world affected by conflict may pose a greater risk to travelers, so we provide our customers with information to help make decisions and encourage them to check their government’s official travel guidelines as part of the decision-making process,” the company was quoted by Hatzinor as saying.

‘Illusory decision’

Booking.com’s move has led to criticism from the Israeli government.

Israel’s Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said that no one had the right to determine for Israelis “what is the territory of the State of Israel and what is not”.

“From the moment I heard the report that Booking was introducing political and political considerations into their activities, I requested to urgently convene the management of the Ministry of Tourism, to determine steps to deal with the illusory decision, and to protect the tourism business in the entire State of Israel,” he added.

Consumer brands are facing increasing pressure to take a stand on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land.

In 2018, the San Francisco-based home-sharing platform Airbnb said that it was no longer going to list properties in the occupied West Bank, before later reversing its position in 2019.

Last year ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s said it was going to stop selling its products in the West Bank and East Jerusalem because it was “inconsistent with [Ben & Jerry’s] values”.

In June, Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever, sold its Israeli business to a local licensee, allowing it to circumvent the restriction on sales, in a move that was criticized by Ben & Jerry’s founders on Sunday.

At least 400,000 Israelis live in settlements that dot the occupied West Bank and range in size from tiny hamlets to large towns, in addition to 200,000 living in settlements in East Jerusalem.

The international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to end international support for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, and advocates for freedom, justice, and equality for Palestinians, as well as for Israel to comply with international law.

SOURCE: AL-JAZEERA

____

Booking.com to put warnings on listings in illegal Jewish settlements

Mee Staff

Middle East Eye  /  September 19, 2022

Reservation website says the warning is applied to all listings in conflict zones worldwide.

Global hotel booking website Booking.com is introducing a warning to customers visiting listings in illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank. 

The warning states that bookings for listings in a Jewish settlement will tell users that “visiting the area may be accompanied by an increased risk to safety and human rights or other risks to the local community and visitors”.

Booking.com said the warning applied to all listings in conflict zones worldwide and aimed to “make it easier for every person to experience the world”.

“In accordance with this goal, we are attempting to ensure that our clients have the information needed in order to make decisions about destinations they wish to visit,” Booking.com told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“Certain areas in the world affected by conflict may pose a greater risk to travelers, so we provide our customers with information to help make decisions and encourage them to check their government’s official travel guidelines as part of the decision-making process.” 

Israeli media reports said the warning will be introduced on Thursday and may include the word “occupied” in the amended listings for Jewish settlements. 

A report by the Hatzinor television program said that Booking.com might add warnings to listings in occupied East Jerusalem. 

Israel occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem’s eastern neighbourhoods, including the Old City, in the 1967 Middle East war. Since then, it has settled hundreds of thousands of its citizens in the territories in contravention of international law.

Booking.com rival Airbnb previously planned to delist properties in Israeli settlements, but in 2019 backtracked on the decision and said it would take no profits in the territory, instead donating proceeds to international humanitarian aid organizations. 

According to Israeli NGO Peace Now, more than 450,000 settlers live in the West Bank alongside 2.8 million Palestinians. Another 230,000 Jewish settlers live in East Jerusalem.