Pro-Palestine groups sue over Israeli settlement holiday homes

Pro-Palestine groups sue over Israeli settlement holiday homes
Several rights groups have filed a criminal complaint against over the rental of holiday homes built on stolen Palestinian land.
3 min read
23 May, 2024
Rights groups have criticised for facilitating the rental of homes on stolen Palestinian land [Getty]

Several pro-Palestinian international rights groups have filed a criminal complaint to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service connecting the hotel reservation site to Israel's occupation of the West Bank, saying it was profiting from "war crimes".

The complaint concerns's alleged involvement in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and is based on research purporting to show how it profits from facilitating the rental of holiday homes built on land belonging to Palestinians.

The rights groups involved in the complaint include the European Legal Support Centre (ELSC), Al-Haq, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), and The Rights Forum.

In a statement released on Thursday, the rights groups said that profiting from war crimes is illegal under Dutch criminal law, and that is bringing proceeds of crime into the Dutch financial system, alleging that this made them guilty of money laundering.

Willem Jebbink, an attorney working on the case at Jebbink Soeteman Advocaten, told The New Arab that the case has been two years in the making.

"The goal behind this case is to stop from profiting from international crimes and we hope this will set a precedent for other companies doing illegal activities concerning war crimes," he said.

He added he believes the case will have an impact as the rights organisations were able to easily collect evidence on the issue, and the case is "straightforward" under Dutch law, not requiring the teams to travel abroad to gather proof.

Property stolen

Dr Susan Power from Al-Haq organisation highlighted abuses against Palestinians and how companies can often profit from this.

" is exploiting Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people for commercial profit. Palestinians are subjugated, tortured and killed under Israel’s brutal settler colonial apartheid regime," she said in a statement.

Earlier this year, SOMO asked the travel agency for a response to its research findings and its involvement in Israeli settlements, to which the company responded it "wholeheartedly disagrees" with the "allegations of illegal activity".

The New Arab reached out to for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

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Lydia de Leeuw from SOMO said the case against was in response to calls from Palestinians who "have seen their property being stolen to end up as profitable vacation homes".

She added that efforts by rights groups and activists to inform and warn the company about operating on Palestinian land has long been ignored.

"These unlawful operations support a system of settler colonialism and radical domination that amounts to apartheid."

Since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza on 7 October, Israel has approved the building of major new settlements in the occupied West Bank and in occupied east Jerusalem, in violation of international law.

In December, the Jerusalem District Planning Committee approved a plan to build a "new Jewish neighbourhood that will be partly located in East Jerusalem", according to Israeli media.

The plans would see the construction of more than 1,700 new homes for Israeli settlers. There are already around 200,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed in 1967, and over 500,000 in the occupied West Bank.