The logos of Airbnb Inc. sit on banners displayed outside a media event in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg)

Airbnb Backtracks on Removing Listings in Disputed West Bank

(Bloomberg) -- Airbnb Inc. backtracked on a controversial decision to stop renting homes in Jewish settlements of the West Bank after hosts in the disputed region sued the home-sharing startup.

Having settled all relevant lawsuits, Airbnb said listings would remain across the entire West Bank. “Under the settlement terms, Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank,” the San Francisco-based company said in a blog post Tuesday. “Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform.”

In November, Airbnb said it would remove about 200 home- and room-rentals in the West Bank after policy experts advised that it “should not profit on lands where people have been displaced.” The move upset Israeli officials and drew swift rebukes, with Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan urging affected homeowners to sue the company. Four hosts and guests did just that.

“We understand the complexity of the issue that was addressed in our previous policy announcement, and we will continue to allow listings throughout all of the West Bank, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region,” Airbnb said. Any profits would be donated to charitable organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid, the company said.

Airbnb said this approach would be adopted for other disputed territories around the world, including South Ossetia and Abkhazia, where the company previously said it would take action.

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