National | News

Florida puts Airbnb on notice over removal of Jewish settlements

(JTA) — Airbnb has been put on Florida’s list of scrutinized companies over its decision to remove listings of rooms and homes for rent in West Bank Jewish settlements.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his Cabinet voted to place the company on the list following a recommendation by the state Board of Administration. The company has 90 days to respond.

The state could move to ban its pension fund from investing in Airbnb if it goes public, as reported, by as early as June or at least by 2020. .

“This is not a policy that applies to all these disputed territories evenhandedly,” DeSantis said Tuesday in announcing the decision. “It singles out Israeli Jews in the West Bank. It does not apply the same de-listing to Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank, and that is wrong and that runs afoul of Florida law.”

DeSantis has ordered state employees not to stay at Airbnb homes while traveling on state business.

Airbnb responded to Tuesday’s vote.

“We unequivocally reject and oppose the BDS movement and are disappointed by today’s vote,” the company said in a statement while noting that over 20,000 Airbnb hosts in Israel have welcomed 1 million guests.

Airbnb announced in November that it would remove the listings of some 200 apartments and homes for rent in the settlements, but not in Palestinian communities. The company said it consulted with experts to learn about the historical disputes in the region to decide whether it should be doing business in “the occupied territories.”

Airbnb operates in 191 countries and regions and more than 81,000 cities. Recently it announced that it would delist two contested autonomous areas in the republic of Georgia, South Ossetia and Abhkazia.