Amnesty criticizes Airbnb for West Bank settlement listings ahead of IPO

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Amnesty International has accused Airbnb of acting in bad faith towards investors ahead of its IPO on Thursday by failing to inform them of its politically sensitive business activities in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

FILE PHOTO: Airbnb logos are displayed during an Airbnb event in Tokyo, Japan June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Airbnb did not provide a comment on Amnesty’s accusation. A spokesperson for the company referred Reuters to a statement it made in 2019 saying it would not profit from its West Bank listings.

Amnesty, which wants Airbnb to remove rental properties in the settlements, said in a statement the company should have mentioned them in the “Risk Factors” section of a Nov. 16 regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. the United States.

The San Francisco-based reservations company is holding an initial public offering on the Nasdaq on Thursday.

“Airbnb shares are expected to be bought by investment and pension funds around the world, which could mean that many people indirectly hold investments in Airbnb without understanding all the ramifications,” the group said. defense of human rights.

Most countries consider settlements Israel built on land captured in a 1967 war to be illegal. Israel disputes this, citing security needs and historical and religious ties to the territory that Palestinians seek for a future state.

Airbnb has around 200 properties for rent in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Amnesty said.

Saleh Higazi, Amnesty’s deputy regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a press release that Airbnb “must do justice to future investors and stop benefiting from illegal settlements.”

Responding to calls from Palestinians and human rights activists, Airbnb said in 2018 that it would remove properties from the settlement. But following legal challenges in the United States, he overturned the decision in 2019 while pledging to donate profits from bookings.

“All profits generated for Airbnb from any Airbnb hospitality activity throughout the West Bank will be donated to non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian relief that serve people in different parts of the world,” Airbnb said in its statement. from April 2019.

Airbnb was one of 112 companies the United Nations human rights office said had business ties to the settlements, a list that also included other travel agencies and a steel producer.

Reporting by Rami Ayyub; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Aurora Ellis

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