Trump says he will not be tough on Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he will not destroy the global economy by being tough on Saudi Arabia over the murder of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, although the CIA believes Khashoggi’s murder was ordered by that country’s crown prince.

Trump made the comments to reporters as he continued to defend Riyadh, even though a bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has pushed for the Trump administration to punish Saudi Arabia more severely.

Reporting by Mike Stone; writing by Makini Brice; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Alexander Prokopchuk at an international open forum of the Russian General Prosecutor's Office.

Interpol presidency vote exposes tensions between Russia and the West

Delegates will cast votes on Wednesday for a new president of the international police organization. And a leading candidate for the job is Alexander Prokopchuk, currently Moscow’s most senior Interpol official.

That has critics in Washington and in Russia up in arms. The reason? Russia, they say, has a track record of using Interpol’s systems to crack down on and pursue the Kremlin’s political foes.

On Monday a bipartisan group of US senators released a letter saying the election of Prokopchuk would be “akin to putting a fox in charge of a henhouse.”

While the president of Interpol is not in charge of day-to-day operations — the secretary general holds that responsibility — the holder of the position can influence its overall strategy.

In their letter, the senators urged the Trump administration and members of Interpol’s general assembly to oppose Prokopchuk’s candidacy, saying it would undermine its credibility.

“Russia routinely abuses Interpol for the purpose of settling scores and harassing political opponents, dissidents and journalists,” the letter said. “Alexander Prokopchuk has been personally involved in this intimidation strategy which ultimately seeks to weaken democratic institutions and embolden Putin’s authoritarian regime. If elected as president by the members of Interpol’s general assembly on Wednesday, we have no doubt that Mr. Prokopchuk will further institutionalize the abuse of Interpol red notices and block ongoing efforts at meaningful reform.”

Leader needs credibility

On Tuesday, the US threw its backing behind another candidate. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo endorsed Kim Jong Yang, a South Korean police official who is currently the acting president of Interpol, for the job on a permanent basis.

“We encourage all nations and organizations that are part of Interpol and that respect the rule of law to choose a leader with credibility and integrity that reflects one of the world’s most critical law enforcement bodies. We believe Mr. Kim will be just that,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.

An aide to US Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee and one of the senators behind the bipartisan letter, said Tuesday that his office was working with the US Justice Department and US State Department to lobby Interpol member states against voting for Prokopchuk.

Louis Shelley, a transnational crime expert and director of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center at George Mason University, called the potential election of a Russian as Interpol’s president a “catastrophe for international criminal justice.”

The president of Interpol establishes the agency’s working committees and “has an influence on policy,” Shelley said.

“It’s not as if it’s just some figurehead,” Shelley said. “It totally politicizes the organization and provides that Interpol becomes a political tool of an authoritarian government.”

The potential appointment of Prokopchuk has also drawn criticism from Russia’s embattled opposition. Leading Putin critic Alexei Navalny said Monday on Twitter his supporters had “suffered from abuse of Interpol for political persecution by Russia.”

Calls for reform

US-born businessman Bill Browder also says he has firsthand knowledge of how the Russian government uses Interpol to settle political scores: He said the Russian government has issued a string of “red notices” in attempts to arrest and extradite him. In a press conference Tuesday, Browder said that if a Russian now becomes the head of Interpol, new rules to prevent Russian abuses must be imposed.

“Or if that’s not possible, it may be time to create an international law enforcement that just consists of countries that abide by the rule of law,” ” Browder said,

Putin critic Bill Browder says Interpol has abused its position.

Browder has been the driving force behind the Magnitsky Act, which was signed into law in the US in 2012 and blocks entry into the US and freezes the assets of certain Russian government officials and businessmen accused of human rights violations. The act is named after Sergei Magnitsky, Browder’s lawyer, who died in Russian custody in 2009.

Observers say the Kremlin has made a priority of weakening or even overturning the Magnitsky Act, even as several other countries have adopted similar laws to deter corruption and human-rights violations.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that the US was “meddling” in the election of a new Interpol chief, amid rising opposition to the possible appointment of a Russian Interior Ministry official to head the international agency.

Asked in a conference call with reporters to comment on the letter from the US lawmakers, Peskov said: “We haven’t seen the actual letter, but we’ve read media reports about it. I guess this is meddling in an electoral process in way, in the election of an international organization. How can we think of it otherwise? This is a very telling move.”

That the vacancy exists at all is itself controversial. The organization’s Chinese former president, Meng Hongwei, recently went missing on his return to China; Chinese authorities transmitted what they claimed was his resignation letter to Interpol. His wife, Grace Meng, says Interpol was too quick to accept the Chinese version of events.

In a statement Monday, Human Rights Watch criticized the police organization’s “curious unconcern about its disappeared ex-chief.”

“This is extremely disappointing and worrying behavior from an organization that is supposed to protect people from abuses of power, not aid and abet such infringements,” a spokesperson for Grace Meng said.

David Shortell wrote from Washington, DC. CNN’s Matthew Chance contributed reporting from Moscow and Saskya Vandoorne contributed reporting from Paris

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France urges Renault to replace Ghosn, defends alliance

France urges Renault to replace Ghosn, Nissan alliance faces strain

PARIS/TOKYO (Reuters) – France urged Renault on Tuesday to replace CEO Carlos Ghosn after his arrest in Japan on financial misconduct allegations, which sources said formed part of an investigation extending to its broader carmaking alliance with Nissan.

Ghosn, one of the car industry’s best known leaders, was arrested on Monday after Nissan Motor Co said he had engaged in wrongdoing at the Japanese firm, including personal use of company money and under-reporting his earnings, for years. Nissan plans to remove him as chairman on Thursday.

In a sign Nissan may be seeking to loosen its French parent’s hold on their alliance, the Japanese company told Renault’s board on Monday it also had evidence of potential wrongdoing at Renault-Nissan BV, the Dutch venture overseeing alliance operations under Renault’s ultimate control, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

The private communication came from Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa, whose company is 43.4 percent-owned by Renault in a complex alliance forged by Ghosn over almost two decades.

In its first public comment since the arrest, Renault said it remained focused on its partnership with Nissan and Mitsubishi.

“Thierry Bolloré, chief operating officer of the Renault group, is specifically in charge of the continuity of the executive committee of Renault group,” it said, sketching out interim arrangements for keeping the company running.

Renault’s board was due to meet later on Tuesday.

The French state, which owns 15 percent of Renault, has begun to distance itself from Ghosn, a French citizen who was born in Brazil and is of Lebanese descent.

“Carlos Ghosn is no longer in a position where he is capable of leading Renault,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France Info radio.

“Renault has been weakened, which makes it all the more necessary to act quickly,” he said.

Following talks between Le Maire and his Japanese counterpart Hiroshige Seko, the two ministers issued a joint statement reaffirming support for the Renault-Nissan alliance and a “shared wish to maintain this winning cooperation”.

FILE PHOTO: French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn wait for French President Emmanuel Macron for a visit of the Renault factory in Maubeuge, France, November 8, 2018. Etienne Laurent/Pool via REUTERS


Close to bankruptcy when Renault bought its stake in 1999, Nissan has recovered to be the engine of an alliance that generates synergies for both companies and allows them to rival Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) and Toyota on the global stage.

But there have long been tensions as Nissan, while almost 60 percent bigger than Renault by sales, remains the junior partner in their shareholding hierarchy with a smaller reciprocal 15 percent non-voting stake in Renault.

Renault shares were down 3 percent at 1405 GMT, having slumped more than 8 percent on Monday. Nissan stock fell another 5.5 percent, while Mitsubishi Motors, the third member of the alliance, ended down nearly 7 percent.

Mitsubishi Motors’ CEO Osamu Masuko said it could be hard to manage the alliance without the unifying figure of Ghosn.

“I don’t think there is anyone else on Earth like Ghosn who could run Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi,” he told reporters in Tokyo.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch cut its rating on Renault to “neutral” from “buy”, while Exane BNP Paribas downgraded it to “neutral” from “outperform”.

Slideshow (2 Images)


Ousting Ghosn will pose questions about an alliance he had pledged to consolidate with a deeper tie-up, before eventually stepping back from its operational leadership.

It comes at a difficult time for the industry, with tighter emissions regulations, a decline in sales of diesel vehicles and expensive investments in electric and self-driving technology.

Ghosn’s alleged improprieties also raise questions over governance at the alliance in which the three partners’ boards are all chaired by a single executive.

One Nissan-headquartered manager told Reuters he was concerned decision making at the alliance could slow due to the lack of a unifying figure.

The manager, who declined to be identified as he was not permitted to speak to the media, said he was also worried Ghosn’s departure could hit sales as fans of the charismatic leader abandon the company and corporate customers bound by compliance rules put orders on hold due to the scandal.

Japan’s Nikkei business daily, citing unidentified sources, said Ghosn had received share price-linked compensation of about 4 billion yen ($36 million) over a five-year period to March 2015, but it went unreported in Nissan’s financial reports.

The financial reports also did not mention annual compensation of 100-150 million yen Ghosn received from the automaker’s overseas subsidiaries, the newspaper said.

Nissan declined to comment on the report.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK also reported Nissan paid billions of yen to buy and renovate homes for Ghosn in Rio de Janeiro, Beirut, Paris and Amsterdam, citing unidentified sources. The properties had no business purpose and were not listed as benefits in filings to the Tokyo bourse, NHK said.

There has been no comment from Ghosn on the allegations, and Reuters could not contact him for comment.

A French diplomatic source said the country’s ambassador in Tokyo had seen Ghosn on Tuesday as part of usual procedures for a French citizen being held in Japan.

Additional reporting by Sam Nussey, Leigh Thomas, John Irish, Sudip Kar-Gupta and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Keith Weir and Mark Potter

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Renault taps interim chairman, COO to replace Ghosn: sources

Renault taps interim chairman, COO to replace Ghosn: sources

FILE PHOTO – Philippe Lagayette, Senior Independent Director and Chairman of Accounts & Audit Committee, attends a general assembly meeting with stock holders in Paris, France, April 29, 2011. Picture taken April 29, 2011. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) – French carmaker Renault’s board named an interim chairman and handed new powers to its chief operating officer to replace embattled boss Carlos Ghosn following his arrest in Japan on suspicion of financial misconduct, sources said.

Philippe Lagayette, the board’s highest-ranked independent director, will take over temporarily as chairman, the sources said. Chief Operating Officer Thierry Bollore, Ghosn’s second-in-command, will take on full company officer powers.

At a Tuesday meeting, the board refrained from ousting Ghosn, the chairman and chief executive, while it awaits more information on accusations that emerged from an internal investigation by alliance partner Nissan, the sources said.

A Renault spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Laurence Frost and Gilles Guillaume; Editing by Bate Felix

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Retail, tech stocks lead slide on Wall Street

Retail disappointments, energy decline hit Wall Street

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks extended their recent selloff on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 hitting a three-week low, as energy shares dropped with oil prices and retailers including Target and Kohl’s sank after weak earnings and forecasts.

Target Corp shares (TGT.N) slumped 9.5 percent after third-quarter profit missed analysts’ estimates. The company’s investments in its online business, higher wages and price cuts hurt margins.

Department store operator Kohl’s Corp (KSS.N) shed 7.8 percent after its full-year profit forecast fell below expectations.

Warnings from retailers added to caution for investors, already on edge over recent sharp losses in technology shares, a slowdown in global growth, peaking corporate earnings and rising interest rates.

“Despite what has been a pretty good earnings season, people are looking ahead to next year and are worried about a slowdown,” said Mark Kepner, equity trader at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

“It’s sell first, ask questions later at this point.”

Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The S&P 500 and Dow slipped into negative territory for the year, and the Nasdaq fell to its lowest level in more than seven months.

The S&P energy index .SPNY tumbled about 3 percent and led sector losses as U.S. oil prices ended the day down 6.6 percent amid concerns about rising global supplies. The S&P 500 retail index .SPXRT lost 2.3 percent, on track for its eighth straight session of losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 513.95 points, or 2.05 percent, to 24,503.49, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 46.72 points, or 1.74 percent, to 2,644.01 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 119.76 points, or 1.7 percent, to 6,908.72.

Among other retailers, home improvement chain Lowe’s Cos Inc (LOW.N) fell 5.3 percent after it unveiled further plans of restructuring in the face of worse-than-expected sales numbers.

Slideshow (5 Images)

TJX Cos Inc (TJX.N) slipped 3.8 percent after the discount retailer’s holiday-quarter earnings forecast came in largely below estimates. Smaller rival Ross Stores (ROST.O) fell 8.1 percent after it forecast fourth-quarter same store sales below analysts’ expectations.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) shares fell 4.5 percent as concerns lingered over slowing demand for iPhones. The stock, which has led the market through much of its long bull run, is at its lowest level since early May.

Signs of cooling demand for iPhones have wide-ranging implications for technology and internet companies.

Should Apple’s loss hold through the day, its shares would have lost more than 20 percent of their value, or around $250 billion, since its Oct. 3 record closing high.

Goldman Sachs trimmed its price target on Apple for the second time in just over a week, saying the balance of price and features in the new iPhone XR may not have been well-received by users outside of the United States.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 5.85-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.10-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 20 new 52-week highs and 41 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 10 new highs and 263 new lows.

Additional reporting by April Joyner, Medha Singh and Lewis Krauskopf; Editing by Anil D’Silva and Rosalba O’Brien

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Chhattisgarh: Polling for Phase 2 over, all eyes now on results

Chhattisgarh: Polling for Phase 2 over, all eyes now on results

Image- @ANI

Voting took place for 72 of the 90 assembly constituencies of Chhattisgarh Assembly (Image- @ANI).


  • 71.93 per cent of voters came out to exercise their right
  • Results of the election will be declared on December 11
  • First phase of polling was held on November 12

The second and final phase of polling in Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections was carried out on Tuesday. Voting took place for 72 of the 90 assembly constituencies of the assembly. Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of Chhattisgarh Subrat Sahu said that voter turnout was 71.93 per cent and there was no untoward incident during the voting process which was completed it peaceful conditions.

As per the present polling percentages announced by the CEO, the average voting percentage in the state has gone down from 77.12 per cent in 2013 to 74.10 per cent this time.

“These figures have been collected at 6 PM. The final polling percentages will increase further as there were queues outside polling booths even after 6 PM,” said CEO Subrat Sahu.

Among the prominent faces in the fray in the last phase are state Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel (Patan), Leader of Opposition in the Assembly T.S. Singh Deo (Ambikapur) and former Union Minister Charandas Mahant (Shakti). For the BJP, the list includes state ministers Brijmohan Agrawal (Raipur City South), Rajesh Munat (Raipur City West), Amar Agrawal (Bilaspur), Prem Prakash Pandey (Bhilai Nagar), Dayaldas Baghel (Nawagarh) and state party president Dharamlal Kaushik (Bilha). Former CM Ajit Jogi is in the fray from Marwahi, his wife Renu Jogi is contesting from Kota, while his daughter-in-law Richa Jogi is a BSP nominee from the Akaltara seat.

Results of the Chhattisgarh polls would be announced on December 11 along with those of MP, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram.

The first phase of the polling was held on November 12. Voter turnout in the phase was 76.28 per cent.

BJP has rules Chhattisgarh since 2003 and this time, there is a three-way fight between BJP, Congress and Ajit Jogi-Mayawati alliance.

All eyes are now on results which will be declared on December 11.

Read | Full list of Chhattisgarh assembly election candidates

Read | election: ChhattisgarhFirst phase ends with 70% voting despite 2 Naxal attacks

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polio-like illness underreported deaths afm elizabeth cohen dnt lead vpx_00003704

CDC escalates response to polio-like illness AFM

The job of the detectives — formally known as Epidemic Intelligence Service officers — is to collect data on acute flaccid myelitis, known as AFM, and try to identify the cause of the outbreak. Currently, the cause is unknown, and there’s no treatment and no vaccine.

AFM is a rare illness that affects the nervous system, especially the gray matter in the spinal cord, and causes muscle weakness and sudden onset of paralysis. There’s a spectrum of how children can be affected: Some regain the use of their paralyzed limbs, while others are paralyzed from the neck down and can breathe only with the help of a ventilator.

The official said there was an “urgency” to the situation. “It was clear in October that we needed more staff to do the critical response,” the official said. “We’re pulling together the extra people, the extra minds, the extra resources, the extra activities.”

In a CNN story last month, parents of children with AFM and some of the CDC’s own medical advisers criticized the agency for being slow to respond to the outbreak.

Jeremy Wilcox, whose 4-year-old son was diagnosed with AFM in September, organized a meeting last week between parents and a top CDC official. He said he welcomed the stepped-up response. “This is very encouraging to hear the CDC has escalated their response, drastically increasing the resources to responding to AFM,” he said. “This is a drastic difference.”

Overall, the number of CDC staffers working full-time on the disease has more than doubled from 21 to 44 since the middle of October, according to the official.

This year, there have been 106 confirmed cases of acute flaccid myelitis and 167 possible cases, according to the CDC. Since 2014, there have been 430 confirmed cases of the rare disease. Ninety percent of them have been in children.

The new levels of staffing are part of an “escalation” on AFM not seen in previous years, the official said.

CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield announced Monday that the agency had created the Acute Flaccid Myelitis Task Force to aid in the investigation. The task force will bring together experts from various fields in medicine and public health to try to find the cause of AFM and improve treatment.

The official said it would take time to answer some of the most crucial questions about AFM. Though experts think it’s caused by a common type of virus, it’s not clear why most people who get the virus recover easily while others become paralyzed.

“I would hate to promise parents that it’s going to be solved in a short time, because this is not something easy, or we would have solved it,” the official said.

CNN’s John Bonifield contributed to this report.

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James Bond's Secret Lair – The World's Coolest Data Center

Data centers have never been exciting places. That is, until now. Its official, the coolest data center in the world is the Pionen, located in 100 feet below the bedrock in Stockholm, Sweden. Originally built as a nuclear bunker used during wartimes, it's now the home of a space-age, Bond-worthy data center.

Instead of focusing on hardware and servers, the designers of this ultra high-tech data center decided to focus on humans, making it a hip and fun place to work. The center features greenhouses, waterfalls, German submarine engines, simulated daylight and it can withstand a direct hit from a hydrogen bomb.

Design Straight Out of the Movies

The location of the facility was the inspiration for the unique design. Building a data center in an old nuclear bunker claims something out of the ordinary and a boring design would not do. To find inspiration for the center, the designers turned to science fiction movies like Logan's Run, Silent Running and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Additionally, the James Bond movies were a huge inspiration for the design. The designer even wanted to get a white cat, but realized that would be going a bit too far.

Word of Mouth Marketing

One of the hidden benefits for such an intriguing and interesting design is the word of mouth marketing it automatically produces. The space-age design, waterfalls, greenhouses, artificial sunlight and smoke machines make the data center stand out. Since collocation is one of the services they offer, customers frequently visit the facility. When something is this unique customers are sure to share what they saw with their friends and business associates. Something like that can not be ignored. Other companies will want to check it out and see what's so special about the center and voila, they have another customer.

Space-Age Features

But it's not just design and no substance. In fact the data center is just as high-tech as it is aesthetically pleasing.

o Located in a nuclear bunker- the data center is located at the site of an original nuclear bunker from the Cold War. It has also kept the original name: Pionen White Mountains

o Bomb Proof- located 100ft underground and in an original bomb Shelter, no hydrogen bomb is going to destroy these servers. It was built to be secure and protect soldiers in case of an attack. No longer needed for these purposes, it now protects servers … even from a nuclear attack.

o Triple Redundancy Internet- Losing internet connection is not a concern in this facility. Even though it's located deep inside the mountains, there are both fiber and copper wires running into the facility through the mountains from three different directions.

o Cooling- The facility uses Baltimore Aircoil fans to cool the facility to the effect of 1.5 megawatts. This is enough cooling to cool several hundred servers.

o Houses Sweden's largest ISP- this center is home to the NOC for all of Bahnhof's operations. This is the largest ISP in Sweden, with five locations- of which, Pionen is the largest. Additionally the data center is a colocation facility so you can put your servers there if you want.

This data center is by far the world's coolest data center and describes its title. It's tough competition for anyone to outdo Pionen, but if anyone is up to the challenge, the world could use more cool data centers.

Source by Saleh Tousi


Saudi Prince Could Have Known Of Jamal Khashoggi Killing, Ties Unchanged With Saudi Arabia: Donald Trump

Trump has for weeks resisted accepting mounting evidence of Saudi government. (File)

Washington, United States: 

President Donald Trump acknowledged Tuesday that Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman could have known of the murder of a dissident journalist — but said there would be no fallout anyway for Saudi-US relations.

“It could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in a statement.

“We may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr Jamal Khashoggi. In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia.”

The gruesome murder of Khashoggi, who vanished after being lured into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, has hugely embarrassed Washington.

The killing torpedoed a powerful PR campaign led by the crown prince to show that the conservative Islamic state has embarked on a new reformist path. 

It also threw into question the White House strategy to make MBS, as the royal is widely known, its main partner in the tinderbox region.

Trump has for weeks resisted accepting mounting evidence of Saudi government involvement in the Khashoggi killing — and accusations that MBS ordered the hit.

However, with The New York Times reporting that the CIA has definitively concluded that Prince Mohammed was involved, the focus turned to whether Trump would punish his Saudi partner or find a way to let it slide.

In his statement, released by the White House press office, Trump took the latter option, saying that the US-Saudi relationship was more important than the possible involvement in the crime of Prince Mohammed.

He noted that Saudi King Salman and the crown prince “vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr Khashoggi.”

Also, Saudi Arabia, he said, provides crucial help in the US struggle to contain Iranian ambitions, as well as having committed to $450 billion in US weapons contracts and other investments. In addition, the Saudis have helped in keeping oil prices low, Trump said.

“The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region,” he said.

Trump acknowledged a strong push in Congress for the United States to sanction MBS and take other action against the Saudi leadership. 

“I will consider whatever ideas are presented to me, but only if they are consistent with the absolute security and safety of America,” he said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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Airbnb removes Israeli West Bank settlements listings

Airbnb removes Israeli West Bank settlements listings

In a press release issued Monday, the company said the decision would affect some 200 Airbnb listings.

“We are most certainly not the experts when it comes to the historical disputes in this region. Our team has wrestled with this issue and we have struggled to come up with the right approach,” the statement said.

“We concluded that we should remove listings in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank that are at the core of the dispute between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Airbnb did not say when the listings would be removed.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat called the decision to remove the listings “an initial positive step.”

“Israeli settlements are not just an obstacle to peace but defy the very definition of peace,” Erekat said in a statement.

Palestinian leaders had called on Airbnb to remove the listings in Israeli settlements nearly three years ago, saying in a letter to the company that “Airbnb is effectively promoting the illegal colonization of occupied land.”

Israeli leaders slammed the decision and called on Airbnb to reverse it. “This was a disgraceful and miserable decision and a disgraceful surrender by the company,” said Tourism Minister Yariv Levin.

Levin instructed his ministry to implement measures to limit Airbnb’s activity in Israel, while also creating a program to promote tourism and accommodation in rentals in West Bank settlements.

Tel Aviv hotels: An ex-lifeguard stand and 2 more traditional options

Human rights organizations hailed the decision as a positive step by the company.

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement: “Airbnb’s decision to end its listings in Israeli settlements is an important recognition that such listings can’t square with its human rights responsibilities. We urge other companies to follow suit.”

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered a violation under international law, as reaffirmed in UN Security Council resolution 2334, as well as one of the primary obstacles to peace. Israel disputes this and insists the status of the West Bank is more ambiguous under international law.

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