A group of 18 Jewish plaintiffs most dual Israeli-Americans sued Airbnb, founded by Jewish, in US federal court in Delaware, over its intention to remove 200 homes in settlements in the disputed West Bank occupied by Israel.
The lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges that the home rental company violates the U.S. Fair Housing Act by discriminating on religious grounds.
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The plaintiffs said they own or wish to rent delisted homes, accused Airbnb of intentionally affects property renters who are Jewish while letting Muslims and Christians rent their homes.
They said this effectively left Airbnb taking sides in the dispute over the West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967, and where 500,000 Israelis live. The Palestinians hope to establish an independent state on the occupied territory. The US and most world leaders believe Israel’s settlements on disputed land violate international law.
The plaintiffs ask a court to provide compensation for lost revenue and cover legal fees and to block future discrimination against Jews.
In a statement by Airbnb, the company said, “We don’t believe this lawsuit will succeed in court, but we know that people will disagree with our decision and appreciate their perspective”.
“Airbnb has made a religion- and nationality-based decision about who can list,” Robert Tolchin, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Reuters in an interview. “It decided in the United States, ‘We will not list for Jews in the West Bank.’ It should be equal access for all.”
Another group sue Airbnb was filed in a Jerusalem court on November 22.
Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, another lawyer for the plaintiffs and the founder of Shurat HaDin Israeli Law Center, said in an interview .that the American plaintiffs differed by claiming that “Airbnb is violating Americans’ rights, and this can’t be argued in an Israeli court under Israeli law,” according to Reuters.
Airbnb’s delisting was announced last week and applies only in the West Bank, where Palestinians have limited self-rule under Israeli military rule.
While concluding that “companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced,” Airbnb said it had “deep respect” for the “many strong views” about what to do with disputed lands.