NEW YORK Amnesty International has slammed online tourism companies for offering services in Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land, saying they are actually contributing to the regimes land theft and profiting from war crimes against Palestinians.
In a report published on Wednesday, the London-based rights group accused travel and booking firms – Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor – of fuelling human rights violations by listing hundreds of rooms and activities in Israeli settlements built on the occupied territory, including East Jerusalem al-Quds, in defiance of international law.
Israels unlawful seizure of Palestinian land and expansion of settlements perpetuates immense suffering, pushing Palestinians out of their homes, destroying their livelihoods and depriving them of basics like drinking water, said Seema Joshi, Amnesty Internationals Director of Global Thematic Issues.
The four companies are contributing to these human rights violations by doing business in the settlements, she added, calling on them to stop promoting the settlements as tourist destinations.
Tel Aviv uses the growing tourism industry in the settlements as a way of legitimizing their existence and expansion, and online booking companies are playing along with this agenda. Its time for these companies to stand up for human rights by withdrawing all of their listings in illegal settlements on occupied land. War crimes are not a tourist attraction, Joshi said.
Amnestys report, entitled Destination: Occupation further highlighted how the Tel Aviv regime allows settlers to exploit Palestinian land and natural resources and how Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor benefit from the exploitation.
It also complained that these companies mislead tourists by failing to mention the location of their listings.
These companies promote visits to nature reserves, encourage tourists to go on walking trails and desert safaris, Joshi said. Despite the fact that these are illegally appropriated Palestinian natural resources, these activities only benefit settlers and the online companies that do business with them.
The rights group stressed that the international community should not only denounce the Israeli settlements but also stop business with them.
Its not enough to condemn the settlements as illegal but allow the commercial activities that make them profitable to continue, Joshi said.
Emboldened by US President Donald Trumps all-out support, Israel has in recent months stepped up its settlement construction activities in the occupied lands in defiance of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334.
Some 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the 1967 occupation of Palestinian lands.
Many countries have already banned the sales of goods produced in Israeli settlements.
The boycott is part of a larger international movement known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led international campaign launched more than a decade ago with the aim of ending the Tel Aviv regimes occupation.
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