McDonald's leads boycott of Ariel settlement

June 29, 2013
Sarah Benton

News report followed by a B’Tselem fact sheet on Ariel, plus notes and links at end.

Concerned about its international reputation, McDonald’s fast-food franchise does not want its golden arches seen in the illegal West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Report: McDonald’s refuses to open branch in Ariel

“Golden Arches” says move is consistent with its policy, worried about potential for negative international response.

By JPost staff
June 26, 2013

McDonald’s Israel has refused an offer to open a branch of its restaurant chain in a mall slated to be built in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, according to a report in the Calcalist newspaper [Hebrew business newspaper].

Tzahi Nahmias, the realtor who is marketing the mall’s commercial space, told the paper that McDonald’s refused to open a branch because Ariel is located beyond the Green Line.

McDonald’s confirmed that it did not intend to open in Ariel and said that its refusal to operate in the West Bank “had always been the restaurant chain’s policy,” according to the report.

Nahmias said that there were other companies besides McDonald’s, that he refused to name, that expressed concerns that opening in the mall would negatively impact their international business.

Rami Levy, Israeli supermarket magnate and one of the entrepreneurs behind the Ariel mall, did not refer specifically to McDonald’s decision but he did tell the paper that businesses that refuse to open in the West Bank also harm the Arab population there.

“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” Levy said.

“This boycott is superfluous, and it harms the Arab population that it is supposedly trying to protect,” he added.

Israeli artists as well as academics have boycotted the city because of its location beyond the Green Line.

In March, during US President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel students from Ariel University were not invited to a speech that he gave in Jerusalem to Israeli university students.

Map of the deeply intrusive Ariel settlement, constructed with heavy expenditure and support by the Israeli state on Palestinian land east of the Green Line. Like all such incursions, one effect is to compel Palestinians to make long and arduous journeys to travel what should be a few kilometres.

Ariel settlement fact sheet

By B’tselem
August 2010/ July 2012

1. Ariel is an Israeli settlement in the Salfit District in the central West Bank, some 16.5 kilometers east of the Green Line, with a population of 16,800 (at the end of 2009). It was founded in 1978 on land that was seized under the false pretext of imperative military needs and on land that was declared state land, including cultivated farmland of villages in the district and on rocky land the villagers used for grazing their flocks. The state’s declaration of state land was made in breach of the right to due process and relied on a distorted interpretation of the binding legislation in the West Bank. The settlement’s municipal area contains many enclaves of privately-owned Palestinian land, whose owners are not allowed access to them (see map).

2. Ariel was established in the heart of Salfit District, in a way that blocks the urban development of the regional town of Salfit. Israel does not allow lands to be transferred from the Area C category (lands that are under Israeli control and comprise 60 percent of the West Bank) to the Area A and Area B categories, which are under Palestinian control, and thus prevents future development of Salfit.

3. The Separation Barrier built around Ariel created a wedge that separates seven villages north of it (Hares, Kifl Hares, Qira, Marda, Jamma’in, Zeita-Jamma’in, and Deir Istiya), which are home to some 25,000 Palestinians, from the district seat, Salfit (10,000 residents), where the villagers receive a variety of services.

4. In 2000 Israel has blocked Palestinian entry to Salfit from the north via a road branching off the Trans-Samarian Highway that also serves as the main access road to Ariel. As a result, Palestinians must travel a long way, via the Tapuah junction and the villages Yasuf and Iskaka, to the eastern entrance to Salfit. What was once a five-minute trip now takes 30-40 minutes, sometimes more. In April 2012 the Civil Administration removed the roadblocks on both sides of the road, and partially opened it to Palestinian traffic: at present the military only allows passage of public transportation and ambulances. The Civil Administration announced that it intends to open the road fully at a later stage.

5. The prolonged neglect of treatment of Ariel’s wastewater, due to the malfunctioning of the treatment facility inside the settlement, has led several times to pollution of Salfit’s central water-pumping facility. The flow of Ariel’s waste has already damaged the flora and fauna in Wadi al-Matawi, between Salfit and Ariel.

6. Israel prevents the building of a wastewater-treatment facility in the town of Salfit, although funding has been found for it, and conditions approval on Palestinian willingness to use the facility to treat Ariel wastewater as well.

7. According to a 2007 report of the Finance Ministry’s accountant general, Ariel receives higher per capita financial support than any other Israeli authority. The per capita allocation in Ariel (NIS 9,035 a year) was 7.9 times higher than the average per capita allocation for municipalities in Israel (NIS 1,200 a year), even though Ariel belongs to a relatively high socioeconomic cluster .

Notes and links
Boycotting Ariel

Is Obama boycotting Israel’s new settlement university?

From +972, March 2013

Students and staff from Ariel were conspicously not invited to Obama’s Jerusalem speech to students, March21 , 2013 . The US embassy said they had ‘no partnership’ with them.

Israeli academics and theatre people

From JPost, September 2011

One hundred sixty-five Israeli academics issued a petition on Sunday in which they vow not to take part in academic functions at the Ariel University Center of Samaria, because it lies across the Green Line.

The petition, which was initiated by Prof. Nir Gov of the Weizmann Institute of Science, says the educators took part because of their “discomfort in participating in any part of the academic activities taking place at the college which operates in the settlement of Ariel.”

According to the petition, the settlement “is not part of the sovereign territory of the State of Israel, and therefore it is impossible to require us to work there. Our conscience and our social responsibility demand that we bring forth an obvious stance on the matter.”

The petitioners also say that Ariel “was founded on occupied territory. Only a few kilometers from the flourishing settlement, Palestinians live in villages and refugee camps under difficult living conditions, and lacking basic human rights. Not only do they not have access to higher education, a number of them don’t even have access to running water.”

The contrast between Ariel and the surrounding Palestinian areas constitute “two different realities that forge an apartheid state,” the petition adds.

It was signed by three Israel Prize laureates, Prof. Yehoshua Kolodny (the Hebrew University/Earth Sciences 2010), Prof. Benjamin Isaac (Tel Aviv University/ History 2008), and Prof. Itamar Procaccia (Weizmann Institute/Physics 2009).

Following reports of the petition on Sunday, Education Ministry Gideon Sa’ar issued a statement in which he criticized “public debates that are based on attempts to boycott and delegitimize.”

In August 2011, three dozen theater actors and workers wrote a letter in which they pledged not to perform at the then-soon-to-be-opened Ariel Center for the Performing Arts because it is located across the Green Line. Days later, the artists’ boycott was joined by 150 professors and authors who wrote a letter in which they vowed not to work at the facility either.

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