Abbas bans Israel’s peace-promoting supermarket king from coexistence meeting

PA President Mahmoud Abbas kept Rami Levy out of a meeting aimed at advancing peace.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

A forum of Israeli and Palestinian academics and business and community leaders which aims to lay the groundwork for renewing a peace process reportedly succumbed to the demand of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and kept Israeli businessman Rami Levy out of a meeting with the PA leader.

The meeting, held on Thursday between the Israeli peace group and Abbas, received wide media coverage, but on Sunday, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported that Abbas insisted that Levy could not attend the meeting and that the encounter took place only once that demand was met.

Levy is the controlling shareholder of a nationwide supermarket chain. Abbas refused to include him in the meeting because several of Levy’s stores are located in Judea and Samaria. The PA and its leader object to patronizing the “Rami Levy” supermarkets even though the chain employs and serves both Israelis and Palestinians.

Levy has taken pride in the coexistence which he believes his chain is serving by opening branches in areas that straddle the boundaries between Israeli and Palestinian Authority areas. The attempt at coexistence has also come at a cost of lives.

In 2016, off-duty IDF soldier Tuvia Yanai Weissman was murdered in a terror attack at a Ramy Levy supermarket in the Sha’ar Binyamin industrial zone, southeast of Ramallah. In 2018, Ari Fuld, an American-Israeli father of four, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist at a shopping mall in the Gush Etzion area, south of Jerusalem, near a Rami Levy supermarket.

The PA has warned its people not to shop at a new mall established by Levy in Jerusalem’s Atarot neighborhood, an area captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Palestinian Media Watch, an Israeli organization which monitors the Palestinian press, says that an ad that aired on PA television stated: “Do not be the occupation’s partner in the Judaization of the city. Economic normalization is treason.”

The name of the group which met with Abbas last week is called “Breaking the Impasse.” Levy is a member.

Forum member Ilan Paz said that “the attendance of Levy at the meeting was a sensitive issue” for the office of the PA president, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.  He said that another meeting would take place with Levy’s participationi but did not elaborate.