A US company that lists rental properties in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories.
Airbnb is a U.S.-based company that owns and operates the world's largest online marketplace for lodging, vacation rentals, and tourist activities. The company takes a commission of 3-5% of every booking from hosts, and a larger commission of up to 20% from guests. As of 2021, Airbnb has over 12.7 million listings in over 100,000 cities and towns in more than 220 countries and regions. In 2021, Airbnb generated $5.9 billion in revenue.
Airbnb lists rental properties in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Ban, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Golan Heights. As of 2018, the company had some 200 property listings in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, not including listings in occupied East Jerusalem. Amnesty International documented an additional 100 listings in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan Heights. According to Who Profits, Airbnb lists properties in at least 56 illegal settlements in the West Bank and in at least 18 illegal settlements in the Golan Heights, as of 2022. Airbnb identifies these properties as located in Israel rather than in occupied territories.
In 2018, Airbnb announced that it would delist properties in the occupied West Bank but continue to allow listings in the occupied Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. A few months later, in 2019, after facing backlash from the Israeli government and legal challenges, Airbnb reversed its decision and decided to keep these listings. As a result, Airbnb was included on the 2020 United Nations database of companies doing business in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In contrast, Airbnb suspended all of its operations in Russia and Belarus following the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. This included restricting people in Russia and Belarus from making reservations as guests in other countries. The company previously removed listings in occupied Crimea.
Airbnb's operations support the expansion of Israel's illegal settlement enterprise by driving tourism into illegal settlements and providing settlers with jobs and income. In addition, the company contributes to discrimination against West Bank Palestinians as—unlike their Israeli neighbors and foreign tourists—they cannot access properties listed in settlements. By labeling the location of these properties as Israel, the company also normalizes the illegal occupation of Palestinian land and misleads its customers by obscuring the fact that their payments support the settlement industry.
These actions also raise concerns of pillage, as Airbnb gains a portion of rental fees from listings in illegal settlements without the consent of the legal landowners. According to the international laws of belligerent occupation, an occupying power may appropriate property only for military necessity or for the exclusive benefit of the occupied population. At least 88 of Airbnb's settlement listings were built either on land that Israel designated "state land" or on land that Israel acknowledged was privately owned by Palestinians, according to Human Rights Watch and Kerem Navot. Although Airbnb's business in illegal settlements presents a risk to its investors, the company failed to mention this as a risk factor in its IPO filings.
- In November 2020, San Francsico State University's student government passed a resolution calling for the university to pull out of investments in companies that do business in Israeli settlements, referencing the 112 companies linked to the illegal settlements in Palestine as listed by the United Nations.
- In October 2020, Fresno State University’s student government voted in favor of a divestment resolution calling for the university to divest from the 112 companies linked to the illegal settlements in Palestine, as listed by the United Nations.