Welcome to FMEP’s Weekly Settlement Report, covering everything you need to know about Israeli settlement activity this week.
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September 23, 2022
- Booking.com To Post Warning on Settlement Listings (Like Other “Conflict Affected” Areas)
- Things to Watch During Jewish High Holidays
- Bonus Reads
The online travel planning giant Booking.com announced this week that it will begin including a safety warning on listings located in “disputed, conflict-affected or high-risk” areas, including on properties located in the West Bank but owned by Israelis (i.e., in settlements). The language has not been finalized, but Booking.com expects the warning will look (in substance and style) like similar warnings for Cyprus and Ukraine, emphasizing for customers that “visiting the area may be accompanied by an increased risk to safety and human rights, or other risks to the local community and visitors.” Other reports suggest that Booking.com will add the word “occupied” to listings located in West Bank settlements (but not on listings located in East Jerusalem settlements).
For years, Palestinian rights advocates have pushed companies like Booking.com and AirBnB to remove from listings for properties located in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – settlements which are illegal under international law. AirBnB was the first to attempt to follow international law, when it announced a plan to remove settlement listings from its site in 2018. AirBnB ultimately reversed that decision amid intense backlash from Israel and in U.S. courts.
“A business will not dictate to us what area is Israel and what area isn’t…We intend to act with all the means at our disposal to reverse this decision.”
At the same time, prominent promoter of Israeli settlements, law professor Eugene Kontorovich, framed the planned move by Booking.com as a victory for Greater Israel (in that Booking.com apparently isn’t even considering removing settlement listing), telling the Associated Press:
“It shows Booking.com has paid attention to the massive damage Airbnb and Ben & Jerrys did to themselves when they adopted a boycott of Israeli controlled territories.”
The Jewish High Holidays are approaching just as deadly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces across the West Bank are becoming a daily reality, in most part due to the almost nightly raids by Israeli forces into Palestinian cities over the past several months, including the densely populated cities including Nablus and Jenin. At the same time, there are growing fears in the Israeli security sector that Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority is losing control over the West Bank, as discontent and opposition to the PA has grown – most recently (and notably) resulting in armed opposition to PA forces carrying out an arrest in Nablus.
As is standard every year, Israel will impose three days of extensive closures while Israeli settlers (and Israeli forces who protect them) celebrate Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) — sharply limiting Palestinian freedom of movement across the West Bank and sealing off Palestinian access into Israel. These closures are the first in a series of multi-day closures over the next month of Jewish holidays.
Adding to concerns about a new intifada, the status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif continues to be challenged and eroded, highlighted by the record number of Jewish worshippers permitted by Israel to ascend to the Temple Mount and perform religious ceremonies over the past year. This increase in visits combined with the ascendancy of the Israel’s Temple Mount Movement – an extremist messianic Jewish movement working to build a new Jewish temple on the site of the Temple Mount/Haram Al-Sharif, one of the most sensitive holy sites in the world – is the cause of great concern for leading Jerusalem experts, including Terrestrial Jerusalem and Ir Amim. Heading into the Jewish High Holidays, during which Israeli forces will escort thousands of Jewish worshippers and tourists to the Temple Mount, Hamas has issued a warning that “The continuation of the Zionist aggression and their brutality against Jerusalem and the holy shrines will be the cause of a major battle,” and that Israel’s “blatant attack on the religious and Islamic status of the city and the mosque…[has] the possibility of dragging the entire region into an open religious war.”
- “Will Israel finally stop Walaje home demolitions?” (The Times of Israel)
- “Palestinian hurt in alleged settler attack still in prison, settlers not questioned” (The Times of Israel)
- “Life in an IDF Firing Zone: For These Palestinians, It’s a Daily Nightmare” (Haaretz)
- “50,000 visits a year: Jews increasingly flock to Temple Mount amid escalation fears” (The Times of Israel)
- “Arab East Jerusalem schools go on strike to protest edits to ‘inciting’ textbooks” (The Times of Israel)
- “Ben & Jerry’s founders say Unilever ‘usurped’ its authority with Israel spin off” (The Times of Israel)