A Green Party TD has complained to the Advertising Standards Agency for Ireland (ASAI) regarding AirBnB in Palestine.
Patrick Costello, TD for Dublin South-Central, wrote to the watchdog last month after noticing more than 20 examples of the short-term rental agency listing holiday homes in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank as being in Israel.
Mr Costello accuses Airbnb of deliberately failing to accurately label listings as being in settlements and, instead, describing them as being in Israel.
He says this is a breach of the advertising standard code which notes: “A marketing communication should not mislead, or be likely to mislead, by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise."
The complaint was lodged by the ASAI to AirBnB on July 28, after which the company had 10 days to respond to the issues raised. A reminder is sent after the ten-day period.
If Airbnb fails to respond at that point in time, Mr Costello's complaint will be automatically upheld by the ASAI's complaints committee and the advertising will have to be amended or removed.
Talking about his decision to submit the complaint, Mr Costello, who has previously worked as a human rights observer in the Occupied Territories, said we should not allow them to be come “normalised” or we risk facilitating a “de facto annexation”.
“The EU and the Irish government have consistently called the settlements illegal, and not recognised them as part of Israel, but without action the situation will never change,” he said.
“We have labelling guidelines that reflect international law, this is one step to enforce them.
“Overall, enforcement of labelling guidelines, while positive, is a small step. In the absence of more significant action like passing the occupied territories bill, we should still take every small step we can.”
Mr Costello added the company is acutely aware that these listing are not in Israel but in occupied Palestinian territory.
In November 2018, AirBnB said it would remove listings for rental properties in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, while still maintaining its more than 20,000 listings in Israel.
In 2019, the company reversed its decision and continued to allow such listings.
The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although this is disputed by Israel.