Brussels Airlines rescinds ban on Israeli snack made in settlement

Israeli embassies worked ‘vigorously’ on issue after scandal over sesame snack erupted last week.

Israeli Achva halva. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Israeli Achva halva.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Brussels Airlines is welcoming Achva halva back on board.
In a high-profile turnaround and a setback to efforts to boycott products made beyond the Green Line, Brussels Airlines announced Monday it will continue to serve the confection made in the Achva factory in the Barkan Industrial Area near Ariel.
In a letter sent to Simona Frenkel, Israel’s ambassador to Brussels, the airline wrote that “Achva remains one of our trustful suppliers, and without any distinction related to the origin of the product,” the airline will “continue to accept Achva’s products on board our flights, especially given its positive role in the community.”
Israel’s embassies in Brussels and Berlin have, according to a Foreign Ministry spokesman, worked “vigorously” on the issue since the airline announced last week that it was removing the confection from the menu because it wanted to serve products that were “amicable to all.”
One of the arguments Israeli officials used to get the airline to revoke the ban was to stress that the plant employs a large number of Palestinian workers.
The airline, which runs multiple flights from European cities to Tel Aviv each week, removed the halva after receiving a complaint from a passenger.
The airline was quoted as saying that “the customer who came to us with the complaint brought to our attention that the aforementioned dessert is a controversial product. As a company that serves an international audience full of people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures, it is our responsibility to present products that will be amicable to all, and therefore, we decided to change desserts.”
This triggered an uproar in Israel with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin saying that Israel should keep Brussels Airlines from Israel’s skies, and that “its name should be deleted from the flight board at Ben-Gurion Airport.”
Embassy officials in Brussels and Berlin contacted major stockholders in both capitals regarding the issue, and stressed the inadmissibility of boycotts. The German national carrier, Lufthansa, is one of those stockholders.
One Israeli official said that the angry backlash from Israeli consumers to the ban, including calls for a counter-boycott of the airline, impacted Brussels Airlines’ decision to reinstate the product.