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December 20, 2018 11:15 am

Airbnb Officials Visit Samaria Amid Controversy Over Rentals and Settlement Homes

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A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, Aug. 2, 2016. Photo: Reuters / Gabrielle Lurie. – Senior officials from the home-rental company Airbnb toured the Barkan Industrial Park on Tuesday amid the ongoing controversy over its decision to ban Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria from its online platform.

The tour was organized by the head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan. The Barkan Industrial Park was the site of a deadly terrorist shooting in October, in which a Palestinian terrorist killed two Israeli co-workers and wounded a third.

The company announced its decision to delist some 200 homes in November because of their location—in an area that is “at the core of the dispute between the Israelis and Palestinians.”

The decision elicited widespread condemnation in Israel. In the United States, two states said they were looking into punitive measures against the company for potentially violating laws against boycotting Israel.

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On Tuesday, Airbnb Vice President Chris Lehane was among the company officials who visited Samaria. The group was shown the factory where the Barkan terrorist attack occurred.

The officials were briefed on the tourism industry in the area, as well as on the coexistence between Arabs and Jews in the industrial complex and elsewhere in Samaria.

“I told the delegation that I am glad they are engaged in dialogue with the Israeli government, and that I expect them to cancel their policy [against Jewish settlements],” Dagan said after the tour, adding that he expected that the company will “resume their activity in Judea and Samaria just like they operate everywhere else in our country.”

Dagan said he was “pleased to hear that they are against the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, and we agreed that they would consider my request and that the dialogue will continue.”

Dagan vowed to “continue advocating for Samaria and against the BDS movement on all fronts.”

On Monday, the company expressed its “unequivocal rejection of the BDS movement” following a meeting with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin. However, the company said that the reports that it had reversed its policy on the settlements were “inaccurate.”

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