מטה בוקינג האג
Booking.com HQ
Photo: Shutterstock
Booking.com HQ

Israel to fight Booking.com over planned safety warning on West Bank listings

Online travel agency describes West Bank as 'Palestinian Territory,' but denies taking stance on area's status; Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov threatens 'diplomatic war' to reverse decision, which he condemns as 'political'

Reuters |
Published: 09.20.22, 20:54
Israel said on Tuesday it would fight a plan by online travel agency Booking.com to add a safety warning to listings in the West Bank, which its tourism minister condemned as a politically-motivated decision.
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  • A senior Palestinian official welcomed the move, provided it applied to Jewish settlements only.
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    מטה בוקינג האג
    Booking.com HQ
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    The West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six Day War, is among territories where Palestinians seek statehood. Most nations deem Israel's settlements there illegal. It disputes that, describing the West Bank as a Biblical birthright and defensive bulwark.
    A spokesperson for Amsterdam-based Booking.com said on Monday that it planned to "display ... banners and notifications to customers related to relevant local safety considerations" for listings the West Bank, similar to current labels for Ukraine or Cyprus.
    Violence in the West Bank has surged in recent months after Israel stepped up raids into the territory following a spate of deadly Palestinian street attacks in Israel.
    On Tuesday one man was killed in clashes between Palestinian gunmen and Palestinian Authority security forces in Nablus which broke out after the arrest of two militants.
    The Booking.com spokesperson did not provide any indication that the company, whose website describes the West Bank as "Palestinian Territory", was taking a position on the territory's status.
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    גן לאומי הרודיון
    גן לאומי הרודיון
    Herodion National Park in the West Bank
    (Photo: Ron Peled)
    Still, Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said he had written to Booking.com and threatened "diplomatic war" by his government to reverse the decision, which he condemned as "political".
    He played down the possibility that the West Bank, parts of which have has seen a surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence in recent months, might be dangerous for foreign visitors.
    "Millions of tourists visit Israel, including this area," he told Ynet TV. "At the end of the day, there is no problem."
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    שר התיירות רזבוזוב נגד בוקינג
    שר התיירות רזבוזוב נגד בוקינג
    Israeli Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov
    (Photo: Moshe Mizrachi, shutterstock)
    The Palestinian Tourism Ministry withheld comment, saying it had not been formally informed of the Booking.com decision.
    Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior official with the umbrella Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), voiced conditional approval.
    "If there is such a decision, it must focus on the colonial settlements of the Israeli occupation," he said.
    The spokesperson for Booking.com, a subsidiary of U.S. company Bookings Holdings Inc., said the final details and implementation date of the listings warning were still being discussed by the company.
    In 2018, Airbnb said it would delist settlement properties, but backed off following protests by Israel and legal challenges in some U.S. states.
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