McDonald's Israel Refuses to Open Branch Across Green Line

The chain, owned by a founder of Peace Now, rejected an invitation to open a new restaurant in Ariel.

Ido Efrati
JTA
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Ido Efrati
JTA

McDonald's Israel turned down an offer to open a restaurant in Ariel because it is located in the West Bank.

The chain, owned by Omri Padan – a founder of the activist group Peace Now – declined a request to open a branch in a NIS 100 million mall now under construction by supermarket mogul Rami Levy.

McDonald’s was approached about seven months ago by a realtor to open a restaurant in the mall, scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014. About 50 stores and eateries, many of them chains, either are on board or in talks to open in the Ariel Mall, according to the business daily Calcalist.

McDonald's turned down the invitation, citing its declared policy not to open any branches across the Green Line.

Representatives of the fast food chain said the refusal to open a franchise in the West Bank has “always been the restaurant chain’s policy,” the Calcalist reported.

Levy, who is an investor in the new mall, confirmed that McDonald's turned down the invitation to open a branch in Ariel.

"If that’s his decision, all the best to him," Levy said. "There are competitors who are eager to take his place.”

Padan, the owner and general manager of McDonald's Israel, first declared that he would not do business in the West Bank as early as the 1980s, a decade before the first McDonald's restaurant opened in Israel. He has maintained this policy for the 20 years that McDonald's has been operating in Israel.

Since entering Israel in 1993, the chain has grown by roughly nine branches a year. It has 180 restaurants to date, and comprises 70 percent of Israel's fast food industry.

According to a source close to Padan, “This is a media spin generated by Rami Levy and his associates. Padan hadn’t even heard of this mall until he was approached seven months ago. He rejected the idea outright. Levy is trying to push his mall forward with media spin, whereas our chain’s policies concerning the opening of branches across the Green Line have been well known for years.”

Marketing agencies acting on behalf of Levy have also approached McDonald's about opening a restaurant at a new mall planned for northern Jerusalem over the Green Line. McDonald's turned down this request as well.

The NIS 150 million mall, called R Jerusalem, will be situated on Highway 60, which connects Pisgat Ze'ev, Neve Yaakov and the Atarot area to Highway 443. It is intended to serve the 120,000 residents of the Arab neighborhoods of Deir Naballah, Shuafat and Beit Hanina. The R Jerusalem mall will be located three kilometers from the Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Ze'ev.

The Masada branch of McDonald’s earlier this week.Credit: Emil Salman

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