Booking.com reverses decision to slap warning on Jewish sites in Judea and Samaria

Prime Minister Yair Lapid hails the about-face, calling it a victory against “false, anti-Israel propaganda.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Global travel reservation site Booking.com reversed its decision Saturday to slap a travel warning on Jewish sites and properties in Judea and Samaria.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid hailed the reversal as a victory for quiet diplomacy.

A “discreet and effective discussion” between the company’s top echelon and the Foreign Ministry and Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov led to the victory, Lapid said in a statement.

“Our policy is not to abandon any arena and engage in a constant political effort against false, anti-Israel propaganda,” he said. “We thank Booking for changing the decision. The State of Israel today achieved an important achievement in the fight against delegitimization.”

The government had jumped into action two weeks ago, when the travel site had resolved to label Judea and Samaria as an “occupied territory” in which Jewish-run tourist accommodations and sites would have a warning attached saying that traveling there entailed “an increased risk to safety and human rights or other risks to the local community and guests.”

This would have gone beyond Booking’s stated intention to label over two dozen conflict zones in the world in order to “ensure that our customers have information in order to make decisions about destinations they are considering traveling to.”

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Razvozov, who had written Booking’s CEO, calling the idea of labeling Israel as a violator of human rights “a biased and scandalous decision,” praised the about-face.

“We have proven that the State of Israel has the ability to act and win in the political arena, and I am sure that we will continue to do so in the future in the face of any attempt to harm us,” he said.

Instead of pushing what would be in effect an anti-Israel narrative, Booking.com now said it will include all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza as “one geographical unit” that would be similar to other regions under dispute, where the company simply informs its customers that “attention should be drawn to the existing travel warnings for these areas for personal security reasons.”

One such area that already has this warning in place is northern Cyprus, which Turkey invaded in 1974. Although the region declared its independence from the Republic of Cyprus in 1983, only Ankara recognizes it as a separate country. The stand-off has been non-violent for the most part, but on-again, off-again efforts over the years to resolve the territorial dispute have so far come to naught.

Potential travelers clicking on sites in the newest conflict region in the world, Ukraine, which is quite violently resisting a Russian invasion, also have banners and notifications pop up on their screens regarding safety considerations that they should have in mind if they want to visit.