McDonald's in Israel Declines West Bank Location
The McDonald's restaurant chain in Israel has refused to open a branch this summer in a West Bank Jewish settlement, prompting some political beefs. The story was mentioned Monday on an international blog by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.
The Associated Press reported that Irina Shalmor, spokeswoman for McDonald's Israel, said the fast-food chain declined an offer to open in a new mall in the town of Ariel because the owner of McDonald's Israel has a policy of staying out of the country’s contentious occupied territories.
The decision was not coordinated with McDonald's Corporation headquarters in the U.S., Shalmor said. In an email, the U.S. office told the AP, "Our partner in Israel has determined that this particular location is not part of his growth plan."
The Israeli branch's owner, Omri Padan, is a founder of the group Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlements in former Palestinian territory because they interfere with the peace process, according to the AP.
The McDonald’s decision adds the name of an important international brand to a movement that urges businesses to stay out of the West Bank, the AP said. The newswire reported that other international companies, like Caterpillar and France's Veolia, are also being pressured by a global network of activists to sever their links with the settlements.
Politicians and settlers, including Ariel mayor Eliyahu Shaviro, cried foul. "The decision by McDonald's not to open a branch in the Ariel mall is an unfortunate decision that discriminates against the residents of the city," Shaviro said, according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper.
But Yariv Oppenheimer of Peace Now responded: “In every democratic country, every person or company has the right to choose not to go against their values, ideology, or morals,” according to the Guardian.
Still, West Bank settlers will not go burger-less. The U.K. paper reported that Burger Ranch, McDonald's main rival in Israel, quickly announced it would open a branch in the Ariel mall “for the glory of the state of Israel.”