Shalom Life | July 24, 2014

McDonald's Refuses To Open In West Bank Settlement of Ariel

The conglomerate fast-food chain fears an international controversy would develop if branch in Ariel is built

By: Daniel Koren

Published: June 26th, 2013 in Business » Israel

McDonald's Refuses To Open In West Bank Settlement of Ariel

McDonald's Israel, operated under the auspices of CEO Omri Padan, also the founder of Peace Now, is refusing to open a branch in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, located in Samaria.

A new mall is opening in Ariel, to be owned by Rami Levy of the supermarket chain HaShikma, and thanks to real estate mogul Tzahi Nahmias, who offered Padan a spacious location for a new McDonald's to be built there.

But Padan, who had protested the Israeli government's establishment of the West Bank settlement in 1979, has refuted the offer, saying that McDonalds Israel will not open in Ariel, or anywhere else in the settlements of Judea or Samaria, which are beyond the 'Green Line' (the hypothetical border that exists between Israel and her neighbouring countries).

McDonald's confirmed that it did not intend on opening as its refusal to build in the West Bank has 'always been the restaurant's chain policy,' according to a report published by Israeli financial paper Calcalist.

Nahmias had stated that McDonald's was not the only restaurant skeptical about opening a branch in Ariel as it could result in negative publicity.

Padan's refusal has caused an uproar in the city, and has since prompted a Boycott McDonald's movement in the area.

The boycott will not only deprive Palestinians in the area of McChicken's and Big Mac's, but also Ariel's Jewish population. Regardless, all residents of the area will not benefit from the copious job opportunities a new McDonald's would bestow to the area.

Mayor of Ariel, Eli Shivro, was disappointed with the decision. “If this is the case, it is a miserable decision. It discriminates against us. We are residents just like everyone in the country, and this is out of place,” he told Israel's Channel 2 News.

Padan, however, stands by his decision.

"I do not accept that companies make business decisions that are informed by political considerations. The mall in Ariel is expected to employ Arab and Jewish workers from the area and to provide services for these populations" said Rami Levy. "This boycott is superfluous, and it harms the Arab population that it is supposedly trying to protect," he added.

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