Israel protests against Booking.com’s proposed West Bank safety warning

The West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967, is among territories where Palestinians seek statehood

The Booking. com logo.  Photo: Reuters
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Israel said on Tuesday it would fight a plan by online travel agency Booking.com to add a safety warning to its listings in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Israel's tourism minister Yoel Razvozov condemned the move as a politically-motivated decision, while a senior Palestinian official welcomed the move, provided it only applied to Jewish settlements.

Mr Razvozov said he had written to Booking.com and threatened "diplomatic war" by his government to reverse the "political" decision, Reuters reported.

He played down the possibility that the West Bank, parts of which have seen a surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence in recent months, may be dangerous for foreign visitors.

"Millions of tourists visit Israel, including this area," he told Israel's Ynet TV. "In the end of the day, there is no problem."

The West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967, 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 for Jews and a defensive bulwark against potential attack, although there has not been a major conventional war in the occupied territory since 1967.

A representative 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 in the West Bank, similar to its labels for Ukraine and 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.

The Booking.com representative 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.

The Palestinian Tourism Ministry withheld comment, saying it had not officially been informed of the decision.

Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior official in the umbrella Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), voiced conditional approval.

"If there is such a decision, it must focus on the colonial settlements of the Israeli occupation," he told Reuters.

Booking.com, owned by US company Bookings Holdings, 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 US states.

Updated: September 21, 2022, 11:26 AM
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