A US travel technology company that owns and operates several travel fare search and booking engines. Its subsidiary Booking.com lists accommodations located in the occupied Palestinian territory and Golan Heights.
Booking Holdings is a U.S. digital tourism company, headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, that owns the world's largest accommodation booking website, Netherlands-based Booking.com. The website has more than 28 million listings, including hotels, homes, apartments, and other accommodations, and charges listing operators a commission for reservations made through its site. Booking Holdings owns additional online tourism and travel websites, all of which use Booking.com's data and services, including KAYAK and Priceline. Booking's data are also used by other online tourism and travel companies, including China-based Ctrip and UK-based Opodo.
Booking.com lists dozens of accommodation options in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian and Syrian territories. As of 2022, it has listings in 19 illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, and in 25 illegal settlements in the occupied Golan Heights, according to Who Profits. In previous reports, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International found 26 and 45 properties in illegal West Bank settlements, respectively (HRW excluded properties in East Jerusalem). While most were rental apartments and homes, some were hotels, with six having more than 50 rooms.
Booking's Israeli subsidiary, Booking.com Israel Online Hotel Reservations Ltd, is defined as a "support community," whose role is assisting local properties listed on the company's website. The company's staff in Israel communicates directly, sometimes during in-person visits, with accommodation providers throughout the country, including in illegal settlements. The role of the local office includes training providers on how to use Booking.com's platform, advising providers on how to promote their listings, and verifying the accuracy of the information that listing operators provide to the website.
Booking.com'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. These actions also raise concerns of pillage, as Booking gains a portion of rental fees from listings in illegal settlements without the freely given 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 15 of Booking'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.
Human Rights Watch maintains that "Booking.com cannot remediate these harms, because they are inherent to the settlement enterprise." As such, in 2018, both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International called on the company to comply with its international human rights obligations and remove its listings in illegal settlements. Amnesty International also called on the U.S. and Dutch governments to "take regulatory action to prevent" Booking.com and other companies from facilitating the rentals of such properties. Booking was also included on the 2020 United Nations database of companies doing business in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In response to international pressure, Booking changed the location label of some of its listings from "Israel" to "Palestinian Territory, Israeli Settlement" in 2018. Following additional engagement by its investors, Booking decided in 2022 to add safety guidance to these listings, warning its users of the increased risk of booking a property in an occupied area. However, the Israeli government successfully pressured the company to refrain from using the word "occupied" and to display the warning only on its search results page, not on individual listings.
- 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.
- In August 2020, the University of Manchester divested more £10 million ($13 million) from companies complicit in Israel's occupation of Palestine, including Caterpillar and Booking.com.