The refusal of Israel's McDonald's franchise owner to open a branch at the new mall in Ariel just because it is located across the Green Line is an unfortunate decision that discriminates against residents of the city and the surrounding area, both Jews and Palestinians.
In my view, all cultural and commercial issues should be separated from politics. Commerce is a bridge that produces conditions conducive for a system of mutual relations, regardless of religion, race or gender. Boycotts do the exact opposite, creating divides instead of building bridges. Peace will come via general cooperation (including, more specifically, trade), not boycotts. The boycott by McDonald's is a direct and offensive insult to the Jewish residents of Ariel, and also especially to the Palestinians who live in the area.
If we're talking about a diplomatic agreement and a true desire to reach peace, neither politicians nor any group should declare boycotts that damage the fabric of life in the region.
Rami Levy (an owner of the new mall) said he would hire workers of all religions and races. So the decision of McDonald's not to open a branch at the mall is a direct blow to the residents of the Ariel area, particularly those who would have found employment at McDonald's.
I hope that McDonald's will reconsider its decision and ultimately choose to separate politics from commerce. However, we here in Ariel will get by without a McDonald's. Despite the insult, the lack of a McDonald's won't hurt us. The mall will open and it will provide competitive services that meet the needs of the residents of Ariel and its environs.
Eliyahu Shviro is the mayor of Ariel.