Consequences 11 June 2024 Lees meer over
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Dutch LGBTQI+ rights group terminates sponsorship’s insistence on continuing to profit from Israel’s illegal settlements is starting to come at a cost for the blacklisted company. has refused to end its involvement in Israel's illegal settlements for at least seven years. © Alamy / Salarko

The Dutch organization COC, the oldest interest group for the LGBTI+ community in the world, announced in March that it would enter into talks with Booking over the company’s role as a rental platform for holiday accommodations in Israel’s illegal settlements (colonies) in occupied Palestinian territory.

Human rights ignored

Under international law, Israeli settler colonies are considered a war crime, accompanied by structural violations of human rights. As early as 2017 Booking was therefore ordered by the UN to cease its activities in the settlements, and was blacklisted in 2020 when it failed to do so.

The COC, itself a human rights organization, conditioned its sponsor relationship with Booking on the termination of the activities condemned by the UN. This has now resulted in the termination of the sponsor deal, according to a statement published by the COC on 6 June.

Facilitator and profiteer

Booking has faced intense criticism for years for its role as a facilitator and profiteer of Israel’s illegal colonization of occupied Palestinian land. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International published reports in 2018 and 2019, detailing that role. But Booking maintained its operations, ignoring the wave of protests that have engulfed the company.

In May, together with our partners Al-Haq, SOMO and ELSC, we filed a criminal complaint to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, urging them to take Booking to court. We accuse Booking of profiting from Israeli war crimes and money laundering by bringing the proceeds of criminal activities into the Dutch financial system. The prosecutor’s office must now decide on whether to prosecute the case. Supporters of this case you can help us cover the costs of the lawsuit financially on our donation page.

In the meantime, Booking’s other partners are also being urged to cut their ties with the company. The board of Pride Amsterdam has been approached about its sponsorship by Booking, but has not yet responded publicly. That call was also supported by the COC.

U.S. Blackmail

The frequently asked question is what motivates Booking to persevere in its role as facilitator of illegal settlements. After all, the turnover from the illegal settlement listings does not outweigh the enormous real and reputational damage that is caused by it. Booking seems to realize that too, but says it fears ‘American legislation’. It hinted that companies that sever their business ties with Israel’s settlements could face US sanctions, although this is disputed by lawyers.

A new problem looms for Booking now that Israel has been included by the UN on the so-called ‘list of shame’ due to its structural violation of the rights of Palestinian children. In addition to the Israeli army, the main perpetrators in this are gangs of armed settlers, possibly those that rent out their stolen property on Booking’s website.

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