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Airbnb reverses ban on West Bank settlement listings

Home-sharing platform Airbnb has announced it will back off a plan to remove Jewish settler homes in the occupied West Bank from its rental listings to end lawsuits brought by the hosts.

The move comes five months after the Silicon Valley startup originally declared it would remove 200 listings of West Bank settlement homes “at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.” The listings were never fully removed and now they’re here to stay permanently.

The announcement this week came after four lawsuits in the United States and Israel against Airbnb were settled out of court. Profits from the listings will be donated to “non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid that serve people in different parts of the world,” the company said.

Israeli lawyers filed a class action suit against Airbnb in November immediately after it said it planned to remove from its rental listings Jewish settler homes in the West Bank.

On Tuesday, the company said the agreement settled all legal actions brought by hosts and potential hosts who went to court.

“Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform,” the San Francisco-based company said in a news release.

“We will continue to allow listings throughout all of the West Bank, but Airbnb will take no profits from this activity in the region.”

More than 600,000 illegal settlers live in about 140 settlements built illegally on Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank.

Airbnb had faced criticism from Palestinian officials and human rights campaigners for allowing listings of homes to rent in settlements.

Last November, the firm announced that following an evaluation it had removed 200 listings because the settlements were at the “core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians”.

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