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 2014.

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 conflict.

“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.”

Omri Padan, 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.

Itamar Regev, 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 Adumim.

Israel considers both Ariel and Ma’aleh Adumim to be settlement blocs that it will retain in any final-status agreement with the Palestinians.

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