JERUSALEM, May 7 (JTA) — The McDonald’s franchise in Israel claimed victory this week in its effort to open a non-kosher restaurant in a new shopping mall opening in the Tel Aviv area. The mall is being built in Ramat Aviv, a predominantly secular neighborhood north of Tel Aviv. Most McDonald’s restaurants in Israel are not kosher. Officials at Africa-Israel, the mall’s builder, said no battle had been fought with McDonald’s because the issue at stake was not whether a non-kosher restaurant could operate, but whether the mall would be open on the Sabbath. Africa-Israel caused a stir in March with its decision to close the mall on the Sabbath. Businesses protested, claiming that their contracts said the mall would be open. Observers have linked the Sabbath closure decision to the recent purchase of Africa-Israel by Israeli business leader Lev Levayev, an observant Jew. Lawyers from both sides have been holding consultations on the signed contracts. McDonald’s lease says opening on the Sabbath would depend on whether movie theaters in the mall also would be open. Africa-Israel said no contract had been signed yet with the company, Israel Theaters.
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