AUSTIN (KXAN) — University of Texas employees were notified they can no longer stay in Airbnbs and be reimbursed by the state. Airbnb is the latest company now blacklisted by the State of Texas over its stance in the Israeli-Palestinian debate.
Texas lawmakers passed a law in 2017 that cut ties with companies that are boycotting Israel.
University employees received an email describing “Airbnb cannot be used for official University business travel until further notice. If you have a reservation with Airbnb, please cancel.“
In a list published by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in March, the state can no longer do business with Airbnb, DNB ASA, and the insurance company KLP.
“The state of Texas prohibits agencies from doing business with companies that boycott Israel, as designated by the comptroller. The University of Texas at Austin follows that law. Economic boycotts that target Israel unfairly single out one nation and shut down the free exchange of ideas that we value at UT,“ President Greg Fenves wrote in a statement to KXAN.
Last fall, Airbnb announced it would remove property listings in Israeli West Bank settlements saying company leaders “did this because we believe that people-to-people travel has considerable value, and we want to help bring people together in as many places as possible around the world.“
The settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by many countries, although Israel disagrees. Palestinians see the settlements as an intrusion on their quest to become an independent state.
The ACLU has filed suit against Texas over its “anti-BDS“ law — BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.
When Governor Greg Abbott signed HB 89 into law he said: “Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally.“
Texas is Israel’s number one trading partner in the United States according to Governor Abbott’s office.
The State of Texas employs tens of thousands of people who travel frequently.