M.P. Correspondent / New Delhi

The fast food giant was criticised after its Israeli franchise gave away thousands of free meals to Israeli soldiers.

McDonald's said it had reached a deal with franchisee Alonyal to return 225 outlets.

It said in January the Israel-Hamas war had "meaningfully impacted" business.

Widespread protests affected sales in the Middle East, Indonesia and France.

Alonyal, which is led and owned by chief executive Omri Padan, has operated McDonald's restaurants in Israel for more than 30 years.

McDonald's uses a franchise system which means that individual operators are licensed to run outlets and employ staff.

The boycott of McDonald's was sparked after Muslim-majority countries such as Kuwait, Malaysia and Pakistan issued statements distancing themselves from the firm.

Days after the Hamas attacks on Israel last October, and the retaliation by Israel Defense Forces (IDF), McDonald's franchisee said on social media that it had "donated and continues to donate tens of thousands of meals to IDF units, the police, hospitals, residents around the strip and all rescue forces".

Vocal protests were staged worldwide as the grassroots boycott spread beyond the Middle East. As well as restaurants in the region, McDonald's businesses in France, Indonesia and Malaysia have also been affected.

On Thursday, the company said: "McDonald's remains committed to the Israeli market and to ensuring a positive employee and customer experience in the market going forward." It also thanked Alonyal for building the brand in Israel.

Mr Padan said: "We are encouraged by what the future holds."

The US company said the restaurants, operations and employees in Israel would be retained "on equivalent terms" though the terms of the sale were not revealed. Under Alonyal, McDonald's employs 5,000 people.

At the start of the year, McDonald's chief executive Chris Kempczinski blamed the backlash on "misinformation" but it hit the firm's financials nonetheless and it missed its first quarterly sales target in nearly four years.

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