McDonald’s wins Ben Gurion airport tender despite its refusal to set up branches across Green Line

Burger Ranch and Burger King lost out to McDonald’s, despite protests over its refusal to open branches in Judea and Samaria.

By Tsivya Fox, World Israel News

McDonald’s won the right to operate restaurants in Ben Gurion International Airport, despite efforts to prevent it by organizations upset at its refusal to open branches in Judea and Samaria. The 17-million-shekel bid by McDonald’s was higher than those of Burger Ranch, a local franchise, and Burger King.

In early June, the IDF Disabled Veterans Forum, a group of injured Israeli soldiers, protested against McDonald’s participation in the Ben Gurion Airport tender. They said that McDonald’s violates Israel’s  Boycott Law by refusing to open restaurants in areas over the Green Line, and so is acting illegally.

The Boycott Law is meant to punish companies that criticize Israel’s policies or boycott parts of the country’s population. The protesters say McDonald’s falls into this category.

But the Israel Airports Authority rejected the argument and announced on Sunday that McDonald’s would be granted a seven-year concession period, which can be extended up to 24 months, reports the Globes news site. The chain will operate in two locations, Sky Hall in Terminal 3 and the Terminal 1 departure hall. Burger Ranch currently operates in those locations.

Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman said, “It’s a shame that the Airport Authority is ignoring a broad public that is an essential part of the fabric, which makes up Israeli society, and does not consider this population to be potential customers like everyone else. Granting McDonald’s this tender is akin to poking a finger in the eye of the residents of our communities.”

“I call upon the relevant authorities in the government to make it clear to McDonald’s that the boycott of Jews remain associated with the darkest days of humanity,” he said.

The McDonald’s Israel franchise is owned by Dr. Omri Padan. Padan is one of the founders of Peace Now, a radical left-wing organization that seeks a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria.

Na’aman had been a signatory on a letter signed by other regional council heads noting that Padan has explicitly stated, “that he will not set up McDonald’s branches beyond the Green Line.”

The efforts to stop McDonald’s appeared unlikely given the reaction to the earlier letter. The Transportation Ministry said that “the minister is not involved in commercial tenders at the Airports Authority.” The Finance Ministry claimed that “the issue does not concern us,” and the Airports Authority said that it “acts according to the Tenders Law.”