Belgium’s biggest airline said it would resume serving a West Bank-produced halva snack, one week after pulling the sesame treat from its flights following complaints by a group that supports the boycott movement against Israel.
While Brussels Airlines said last week it did not order the halva and the snack was served on its flight by mistake, the airline now called the food manufacturer Achva “one of our trusted suppliers” in a statement to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
“It is clear that Achva remains one of our trusted suppliers without any distinction related to the origin of the product, and therefore we will continue to accept Achva’s products on board our flights, especially given its positive role in the community,” the Brussels Airlines statement read.
Achva is located in the Barkan Industrial Park near the city of Ariel in the northern West Bank.
The change came about through “the quick work of the Foreign Ministry, at the direction of Dore Gold, the deputy head of public advocacy and the advocacy unit, and our embassies in Brussels and Berlin,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Last week, Brussels Airlines stopped serving its passengers the halva snack following complaints by the Palestine Solidarity Movement, a proponent of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. A passenger had alerted the group about the snack.
“We’re an airline catering to a large international audience, it’s our responsibility to offer products that please all,” the airline said in its earlier statement on pulling the halva. “Therefore, we decided to take the halva bars off the menu and replace it with another product.”
Last year, the European Union adopted rules that require clear labeling for products made in West Bank settlements.
The report on the snack’s removal sparked outrage in Israel, with Tourism Minister Yariv Levin calling for the Belgian airline to be banned from the country.
Airline spokeswoman Kim Daenen said the decision to pull the halva snacks from its flights was not politically motivated.
Daenen told The Times of Israel that while a passenger did object to the “controversial” settlement-made halva served on a vegetarian in-flight meal, the airline pulled the product because it was mistakenly delivered by its Israeli supplier and should have never been included.
“As a company, we are politically mutual. We are not boycotting any products,” she said. “We only removed it because we did not order it.”
Daenen emphasized that the airline was committed to Israel, where it flies 11 flights to and from Tel Aviv weekly.
“We are invested in Israel and it’s not at all in our best interest participate in a boycott,” she said. “Brussels Airlines has been flying to Israel for 13 years, and we are very loyal to this country, its an important market for us.”
According to Daenen, Brussels Airlines, Belgium’s flagship carrier, is the fastest growing airline servicing Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, and has seen a 40 percent increase in demand for flights to and from Tel Aviv over the last year.
“I think that speaks more of our commitment to Israel than this incident,” she said adding the company served many other Israeli products on board its flights.
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