A burger war broke out in the West Bank on Wednesday, after McDonald’s refused
an offer to place a branch in a new mall slated to open in the Ariel settlement
In response, settlers called for a boycott of the popular
fast-food franchise. Its competition, Burger Ranch, immediately promised to open
a store in Ariel, expanding a commercial battle for the hearts of burger lovers
into an ideological statement about the Israeli-Palestinian
“McDonald’s I’m not loving it,” read a sign posted on the
right-wing My Israel Facebook page.
“McDonald’s has turned from a
business into an organization with an anti- Israeli political agenda,” said
Yigal Delmonti, deputy director of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea,
Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
“We expect that Israeli citizens, especially
those living in Judea and Samaria, will take this into account before entering
the company’s franchises.”
He added that “we welcome Burger Ranch’s
announcement that it would open a branch in Ariel, a move that will increase its
visibility throughout Israel.”
Peace Now defended McDonald’s, saying the
company had a right to act according to its conscience and to decide where it
wanted to place its stores.
Yariv Oppenheimer, executive director of
Peace Now, said the decision by McDonald’s was not about fighting the settlers
but rather a “basic lack of will to participate in expanding and developing the
settlement enterprise that harms Israel’s general interests.”
the owner and CEO of McDonald’s Israel, is one of the founders of Peace Now.
According to Globes, McDonald’s Israel said that not operating in the West Bank
“has always been the policy of Dr. Omri Padan.”
Ariel Mayor Eliyahu
Shaviro called the decision “unfortunate” and said that it “discriminates
against the city’s residents.”
“Issues of culture and commerce shouldn’t
be subject to political considerations,” Shaviro said.
director-general of Mega Or Rami Levi, which is in charge of operating the new
mall in Ariel, said the issue came up when one of its agents contacted
McDonald’s to ask if it wanted to rent a store in the new mall. It declined for
political reasons, he said.
Regev added that another business had
similarly rejected the offer. But many stores, including well-known chains, have
agreed to rent space there, he said.
The new mall in Ariel will be the
second one to operate in Judea and Samaria, in addition to one in Ma’aleh
Israel considers both Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim to be settlement
blocs that it will retain in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians.