By Emin Ileri</p> <p>ISTANBUL (AA) – Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International’s strategy and research director for Turkey, has warned that online tourism companies that do business in the occupied Palestinian territories could face prosecution “for supporting war crimes”.</p> <p>In a new report, Amnesty chides several prominent online tourism firms — including Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor — for promoting tourism to illegal Israeli settlements, thus contributing to Israel’s decades-long occupation.</p> <p>Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Gardner said: "These companies continue to make profits despite the fact that these settlements are illegal and built on occupied territory. They [the companies] fuel human rights violations on these settlements.”</p> <p>He added: "States shouldn’t recognize such business transactions; they should take legal measures to prevent these companies from operating there. These businesses are profiting from the illegal settlements."</p> <p>According to Gardner, the four companies cited in the report dominate the multibillion-dollar-a-year global online tourism industry.</p> <p>“They should not be encouraging tourism activities in the occupied Palestinian territories,” he said. </p> <p>Such activities, Gardner added, “violate the UN’s guiding principles on business and human rights… which call on corporations to operate in accordance with international humanitarian law”.</p> <p>“Although these principles aren’t binding, they are internationally recognized,” he said.</p> <p>Gardner added: “Israel's illegal settlement policy can be seen as a war crime. Due to these companies’ activities, which contribute to the maintenance, development and expansion of the occupation, the heads of these firms risk being prosecuted for 'supporting war crimes'." </p> <p>According to the Amnesty International report, Airbnb last year pledged to remove all its advertisements from the occupied West Bank following criticisms by Al Jazeera and Human Rights Watch.</p> <p>“However, this commitment did not extend to its 100 listings for properties on [Jewish-only] settlements in East Jerusalem, even though this, too, is considered occupied territory,” the report states. </p> <p>“The company did not explain why it made this exception,” the report adds. “At the time of writing [January 2019], Airbnb had not yet implemented its decision and was still listing properties across the occupied Palestinian territories."</p> <p>According to Palestinian figures, some 640,000 Jewish settlers currently live on 196 settlements (built with the Israeli government’s permission) and more than 200 settler “outposts” (built without its permission) across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. <br>
Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980, claiming it as Israel’s “eternal an undivided capital” — a move never recognized by the international community.
International law continues to view the entire West Bank as “occupied territory” and considers all Israeli settlement building there as illegal.