Booking.com to warn users booking occupied West Bank properties | News


Israel TV says the website will add safety instructions to West Bank bookings that will include the word busy.

Online travel booking website Booking.com will begin adding safety guidelines to all bookings in the occupied West Bank on its platforms, Israeli TV reported.

The guidelines will also refer to the West Bank as “occupied,” Channel 13’s Hatzinor program said. Similar guidelines are also being discussed for properties in occupied East Jerusalem, the program added.

During the 1967 war, Israeli forces occupied all of historic Palestine and drove 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 the growing international trend towards more ethical business practices.

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

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

View of a Jewish settlement
A view of the Israeli settlement of Euphrates on the southern outskirts of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank [File: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

“Illusory Solution”

Booking.com’s move drew criticism from the Israeli government.

Israel’s tourism minister, Yoel Razvozov, said that no one has the right to define for Israelis “what is the territory of the State of Israel and what is not.”

“From the moment I heard the announcement that Booking is introducing policy and political considerations into its operations, I have requested that the leadership of the Ministry of Tourism be urgently convened to determine the steps to address the illusory decision and protect the tourism business across the country Israel,” he added.

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

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

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

In June, Ben & Jerry’s parent Unilever sold its Israeli business to a local licensee, allowing it to bypass the sales cap, 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 small villages to large cities, 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, and for Israel to abide by international law.



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