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Airbnb delays boycott of Israeli settlements

An Airbnb-listed apartment near the Jewish settlement of Shilo in the occupied West Bank. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Airbnb will hold off on implementing its new policy of boycotting Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, the company announced today. The statement was issued after a round of negotiations today between Airbnb vice president Chris Lehane and Israeli Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin.

Why it matters: Airbnb's decision last month to delist 200 apartments and houses for rent in the Israeli settlements shocked the Israeli government. In the last few weeks, the Israeli government together with pro-Israeli organizations in the U.S. pressed Airbnb to change course. However, Airbnb has clarified that it is preparing to implement the policy in the future.

An Airbnb delegation arrived secretly in Israel earlier today and held talks with the minister of tourism and his aides.

  • Israeli officials said the talks were very difficult, with Levin conveying tough messages to Lehane. The meeting ended in a deadlock, but in subsequent phone calls, the two sides agreed on text for the statement.

Airbnb's initial statement: "The new policy (regarding the settlements) will not be implemented. Airbnb will continue the dialogue with the Israeli government on the issue."

Update: Airbnb has now issued a second statement, which says the company is "developing the tools needed to implement our policy and that process includes continuing our dialogue with the Government of Israel and other stakeholders.” A spokesman said the first statement, which was in Hebrew, was "released in error."

  • Lehane will will meet with Levin again tomorrow to discuss the policy. Officials at Airbnb tell me the company will continue the dialogue with the Israeli government before deciding whether to keep the policy or change it.