U.S. Governor Calls for Investigation of Airbnb's Israeli Settlement Ban

Following appeal by Israeli Minister Gilad Erdan, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner called on his state’s Investment Policy Board to open an investigation into Airbnb's removal of listings in Israeli West Bank settlements

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner outside the Supreme Court, Washington, November 17, 2018.
Leah Millis/Reuters

WASHINGTON – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner called on his state’s Investment Policy Board to open an investigation into Airbnb over the company’s decision to stop listing properties in Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Rauner said in a press conference on Thursday that the company’s decision is “highly disturbing.” He added that “we are also looking into ways that we can exert pressure on Airbnb to end its prejudicial policy against the Jewish state.”

In a letter to the investment board, Rauner wrote that “we must not — and will not — remain silent when we detect discrimination of the sort being practiced by Airbnb. An investigation — and the scrutiny that accompanies it — could impact the behavior of investors around the country if Airbnb follows through with a reported potential public stock offering and these concerning policies remain in place.”

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Rauner, a Republican, lost his re-election bid earlier this month. It’s unclear yet if Illinois’ governor-elect, Democrat J.B. Pritzker, will share Rauner’s view of Airbnb’s policy. 

Also on Thursday, the progressive Jewish group J Street released a statement criticizing Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan for his attacks on Airbnb and for his appeal to U.S. governors to take action against the company.

“Whether or not one agrees with Airbnb’s decision, it should be clear that it is rooted in concern over the ongoing occupation, settlements and the treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank — and not about opposition to Israel, Israelis or the Jewish people,” the organization stated.

J Street also said that “any U.S. officials who act against Airbnb, or use its decision as the basis to advance problematic legislation, should know that they are not defending Israel or the Jewish people. They are defending the settlement movement and its mission to ensure a permanent one-state nightmare for Israel and the Palestinian people.”