Amnesty calls for tourism ban in Israeli settlements

An Amnesty International report says travel sites are "driving settlement expansion" in Israeli settlements, a claim that has sparked outrage in Israel and among Jewish groups.

TripAdvisor lists more than 70 different attractions, tours, restaurants, cafés, hotels and rental apartments

Law and Justice | 24.11.2018

Human rights organization Amnesty International on Wednesday called for online travel sites to ban listings from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The London-based rights group's report, titled "Destination: Occupation," said rental sites Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor are promoting tourism in Israeli settlements within the Palestinian-occupied West Bank that most of the world considers illegal.

Read more: Intifadas: What you need to know

What the report said

  • "Israel's settling of Israeli civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violates international humanitarian law and is a war crime."

  • Airbnb, Tripadvisor, Booking.com and Expedia "continue to operate in the settlements, and profit from this illegal situation."

  • Airbnb has more than 300 property listings in Israeli settlements, Booking.com has 45 listings, and Expedia has nine accommodation providers including four large hotels.

  • TripAdvisor lists more than 70 different attractions, tours, restaurants, cafés, hotels and rental apartments

A history of the Middle East peace process

UN Security Council Resolution 242, 1967

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, passed on November 22, 1967, called for the exchange of land for peace. Since then, many of the attempts to establish peace in the region have referred to 242. The resolution was written in accordance with Chapter VI of the UN Charter, under which resolutions are recommendations, not orders.

A history of the Middle East peace process

Camp David Accords, 1978

A coalition of Arab states, led by Egypt and Syria, fought Israel in the Yom Kippur or October War in October 1973. The conflict eventually led to the secret peace talks that yielded two agreements after 12 days. This picture from March 26, 1979, shows Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, his US counterpart Jimmy Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin after signing the accords in Washington.

A history of the Middle East peace process

The Madrid Conference, 1991

The US and the former Soviet Union came together to organize a conference in the Spanish capital city of Madrid. The discussions involved Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Palestinians — not from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) — who met with Israeli negotiators for the first time. While the conference achieved little, it did create the framework for later, more productive talks.

A history of the Middle East peace process

Oslo I Accord, 1993

The negotiations in Norway between Israel and the PLO, the first direct meeting between the two parties, resulted in the the Oslo I Accord. The agreement was signed in the US in September 1993. It demanded that Israeli troops withdraw from West Bank and Gaza and a self-governing, interim Palestinian authority be set up for a five-year transitional period. A second accord was signed in 1995.

A history of the Middle East peace process

Camp David Summit Meeting, 2000

US President Bill Clinton invited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to the retreat in July 2000 to discuss borders, security, settlements, refugees and Jerusalem. Despite the negotiations being more detailed than ever before, no agreement was concluded. The failure to reach a consensus at Camp David was followed by renewed Palestinian uprising, the Second Intifada.

A history of the Middle East peace process

The Arab Peace Initiative, 2002

The Camp David negotiations were followed first by meetings in Washington and then in Cairo and Taba, Egypt — all without results. Later the Arab League proposed the Arab Peace Initiative in Beirut in March 2002. The plan called on Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders so that a Palestinian state could be set up in the West Bank and Gaza. In return, Arab countries would agree to recognize Israel.

A history of the Middle East peace process

The Roadmap, 2003

The US, EU, Russia and the UN worked together as the Middle East Quartet to develop a road map to peace. While Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas accepted the text, his Israeli counterpart Ariel Sharon had more reservations with the wording. The timetable called for a final agreement on a two-state solution to be reached in 2005. Unfortunately, it was never implemented.

A history of the Middle East peace process

Annapolis, 2007

In 2007 US President George W. Bush hosted a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, to relaunch the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas took part in talks with officials from the Quartet and over a dozen Arab states. It was agreed that further negotiations would be held with the goal of reaching a peace deal by the end of 2008.

A history of the Middle East peace process

Washington, 2010

In 2010, US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell convinced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to and implement a ten-month moratorium on settlements in disputed territories. Later, Netanyahu and Abbas agreed to relaunch direct negotiations to resolve all issues. Negotiations began in Washington in September 2010, but within weeks there was a deadlock.

A history of the Middle East peace process

Cycle of escalation and ceasefire continues

A new round of violence broke out in and around Gaza late 2012. A ceasefire was reached between Israel and those in power in the Gaza Strip, which held until June 2014. The kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in June 2014 resulted in renewed violence and eventually led to the Israeli military operation Protective Edge. It ended with a ceasefire on August 26, 2014.

A history of the Middle East peace process

Paris Summit, 2017

Envoys from over 70 countries gathered in Paris, France, to discuss the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Netanyahu slammed the discussions as "rigged" against his country. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives attended the summit. "A two-state solution is the only possible one," French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said at the opening of the event.

A history of the Middle East peace process

Deteriorating relations in 2017

Despite the year's optimistic opening, 2017 brought further stagnation in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. A deadly summer attack on Israeli police at the Temple Mount, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims, sparked deadly clashes. Then US President Donald Trump's plan to move the embassy to Jerusalem prompted Palestinian leader Abbas to say "the measures ... undermine all peace efforts."

'Outrageous attempt to distort facts'

Israeli Cabinet Minister Gilad Erdan dismissed Amnesty International's report ahead of its release.

"The report [Amnesty International] will release tonight on Israel is an outrageous attempt to distort facts, deny Jewish heritage and delegitimize Israel," Erdan wrote on Twitter.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) said it was disheartened by Amnesty's report and called for the organization to return its focus back to human rights.

Read more: Jerusalem: Three things to know

"If Amnesty wishes to involve itself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it should center its attention on the real human rights abuses ongoing in Palestinian territories, and not attack corporate businesses who strive to bridge divides and build peace through global tourism and interaction," said WJC CEO and Executive Vice President Robert Singer.

Airbnb backtracks:  Airbnb announced last November that it would remove West Bank settlement listings from its platform,  but has yet to do so. The company has said it is working to identify the "precise boundaries" of areas subject to the policy. The move was decried by Israel and praised by advocates of Palestinian rights when it was announced. The announcement saw the Simon Wiesenthal Centre place Airbnb on its end-of-year list of the "top 10 worst global anti-Semitic incidents."

The Palestine-Israel conflict: Israel took control of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, part of the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem following the 1967 Six-Day War. More than 600,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Palestinians want these areas and the Gaza Strip for their own state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital.

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"Israel's settling of Israeli civilians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) violates international humanitarian law and is a war crime."

Human rights organization Amnesty International on Wednesday called for online travel sites to ban listings from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.