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Amnesty International claims TripAdvisor, Airbnb profiting off Israeli war crimes

By
Darryl Coote
Amnesty International is calling on four major Internet-based travel companies to stop doing business in the West Bank, saying they are profiting off of war crimes. Photo by Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA-EFE
Amnesty International is calling on four major Internet-based travel companies to stop doing business in the West Bank, saying they are profiting off of war crimes. Photo by Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA-EFE

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Amnesty International urged four major tourism booking websites to stop offering hotels and attractions within Israel's West Bank Settlements, saying they are profiting from war crimes.

The British-based human rights NGO called out Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisior in a boycott campaign Tuesday, stating that by continuing to list properties and attractions within Israeli settlements of Palestine they are supporting human rights abuses.

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"In doing business with settlements, all four companies are contributing to, and profiting from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, which amount to war crimes under international criminal law," Amnesty International said in its report Destination: Occupation published Tuesday.

The organization also said advertising the West Bank Settlements as tourism destinations legitimizes to the public "what is recognized under international law as an illegal situation."

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The area in question was captured by Israel from Jordan during the Six Day War, the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. Currently, some 400,000 Israeli settlers occupy the land, an action much of the international community sees as hindering the creation of an independent Palestinian state, The Times of Israel reported.

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The campaign by Amnesty International to force the companies to stop doing business in the settlements was quickly condemned as "anti-Semitic" by members of the Israeli government.

".@amnesty has become a leader in the anti-Semitic #BDS campaign. The report it will release tonight on #Israel is an outrageous attempt to distort facts, deny Jewish heritage & delegitimize Israel," Strategic Affairs and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Twitter.

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BDS refers to a Palestinian-led movement encouraging the boycott, divestment and sanctions of countries and companies that support Israel's claim to the contested area.

NGO Monitor, the Israel-based and Israel-pro NGO watchdog, attacked Amnesty International with an eight-tweet thread charging it with anti-Semitism.

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"In conclusion, it's clear that @amnesty's campaign is just another #antisemitic attempt to deny #Jewish history and to single out #Israel," the organization said in a tweet.

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World Jewish Council CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer said that if Amnesty International wants to become involved in the Israeli-Palestine conflict, it shouldn't attack businesses that strive to create peace through tourism, but focus on the human rights violations cause by the settlements.

"The World Jewish Congress stands ready and willing to engage with Amnesty International and work together against the real human rights abuses and abusers threatening our world today, and to ensure that the price of unbridled hatred is never forgotten," Singer said in a media release.

Amnesty International said TripAdvisor is the main target of this boycott campaign due to its "relative importance to the tourism industry in Israeli settlements." With at least 70 listings in 27 settlements, TripAdvisor does more business there than any other tourism company, the NGO said.

Neither of the four companies made a comment on the report, the Times of Israel reported.

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