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Wal-Mart stores in Israel have been under increasing pressure from a growing number of people who have begun protesting the fast food giant’s decision to open its second location in the country.
The company announced in January that it would be opening a new store in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, a decision that sparked protests across the Jewish-majority country.
In the past week, the Palestinian Red Crescent has been forced to evacuate its office building in Ramallah after protesters entered the building to protest the company’s decision.
In Bethlehem, the Jewish National Fund has begun to raise funds to provide food aid to families displaced by the crisis.
But the Israeli government has repeatedly expressed opposition to such an influx of foreign workers.
“The Palestinian Red Cross and the Palestinian Authority have not agreed on a solution to the conflict that has caused the refugee problem, and we have called for the parties to stop these efforts and move forward,” said Israeli Minister of Economy and Trade Uri Ariel.
“This decision has no moral significance, and the Israeli authorities have no right to impose this policy on the Palestinian people,” he added.
The Red Crescent in the West Bank was established by the British during the British mandate in Palestine, after the British-Arab war of Independence in 1917.
The organization now operates in more than 200 countries and territories, including the United States.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Israeli Government is pushing this policy of ‘no-go zones,’ ” the group’s executive director, Micky Rosenfeld, said in a statement.
“There is a very clear difference between the two policies and we ask that the Jewish communities of the Middle East not become a scapegoat for this issue.”
Palestinians have long protested against the construction of settlements and the use of the term “price tag” in reference to the economic impact of the Israeli settlement enterprise.
In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for an end to all settlements in a speech to a joint session of the Knesset.
“I call on you to take this decision to the United Nations, because the international community has not been doing enough to prevent the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the Zionist regime,” he said.
In his address to the Kabbalah convention in January, Netanyahu also said the United Kingdom’s decision not to join the United Israel Association (UIA) was not in keeping with the values of the international Jewish community.
“It is not in accordance with the core values of our Jewish community, it is not a way to defend our values,” he told the Kabinett, Israel’s main Jewish weekly newspaper.
“These are not acceptable values.”
The Israeli government, however, has defended the decision to expand the store.
“Today, we are opening a second store in Bethlehem,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Yael Alon told Al Jazeera.
“All our businesses in the region are open and we will continue to open them.”