Dutch prosecutors studying complaint against Booking.com's Israeli settlement listings

Booking.com offices. Photo: Flickr

Booking.com offices. Photo: Flickr

Published May 23, 2024


Dutch prosecutors are looking into a criminal complaint against Booking.com over its listing of rental properties in Israeli settlements, they said on Thursday.

Dutch non-profit organisation SOMO said it had filed the complaint with the Dutch public prosecutor in November, together with three other human rights groups, but had not gone public with it before.

In their complaint the groups accuse Booking.com of "profiting from war crimes by facilitating the rental of vacation homes on land stolen from the indigenous Palestinian population".

Prosecutors were studying the complaint, but could not give a timeline for a decision on possible further steps, spokesperson Brechje van de Moosdijk said.

Booking in a response said it disagreed with the allegations and that there are no laws prohibiting listings in Israeli settlements, while a range of US state laws would prohibit divesting from the region.

"Legal action has been taken against other companies that have tried to withdraw their activities, and we would expect the same to happen in our case," a spokesperson for the company said.

SOMO said its research had shown that Booking's platform offered up to 70 listings for properties in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank between 2021 and 2023.

It argued that revenues acquired from renting out those properties are "proceeds of criminal activities", and that by booking these proceeds in the Netherlands the company is violating Dutch anti-money laundering rules.

The settlements built on land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war are deemed illegal by most countries, including the Netherlands. Their presence is one of the fundamental issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinians seek to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as their capital. Israeli settlers cite Jewish historic connections to the land.