Amnesty International called on Airbnb Thursday to remove its approximately 200 rental properties located within the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) before the company’s Initial Public Offering (IPO). Amnesty claims that these properties are in illegal Israeli settlements and “are at the heart of systematic human rights violations faced by Palestinians.
In preparation for the IPO, Airbnb filed a Registration Statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). That statement failed to disclose the properties in the OPT or the company’s inclusion on an unfavorable list published by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The OHCHR released a list earlier this year of more than 100 companies with business ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which included Airbnb. Israeli officials and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the list and urged UN member-states not to cooperate with the OHCHR on similar investigations in the future.
Amnesty noted that without disclosing the Airbnb operations in Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, investors may not know where their money is going. Some individuals with money in investment or pension funds that purchase stock in the company could end up holding Airbnb investments without having any understanding of the implications.
After learning of Airbnb’s intention to become a publically-listed company, Amnesty Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Saleh Higazi, stated:
These settlements are a war crime under international law. Airbnb needs to do right by future investors and stop benefitting from illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Shamefully, Airbnb has been promoting and benefitting from a situation that is a root cause of the systematic human rights violations faced by millions of Palestinians on a daily basis.
Additionally, Higazi criticized Airbnb and stated that “[n]o company should be party to human rights abuse.”
Airbnb began trading publicly on Thursday without removing their properties in the OPT.
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