The Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream products in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem It was met with intense criticism from the Israeli political establishment, including a warning from the prime minister, Naftali Bennett, that the decision would have “serious consequences” for Ben & Jerry’s and its parent company, Unilever.
The announcement came from an ice cream maker who has also taken political stances on the climate crisis and social justice issues such as Black Lives Matter Movement, is one of the most well-known reprimands of Israeli settlement construction to date by a well-known brand.
About 700,000 Israelis live in settlements – built on land captured by Israel during the 1967 war – which most of the international community views as illegal A great stumbling block towards lasting peace with Palestinians.
Bennett’s office released a statement on Tuesday saying that the prime minister had spoken to Unilever CEO, Alan Job, about what he called a “clearly anti-Israel move,” adding that the move would have “serious consequences, legal and otherwise, and that [Israel] It will act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens.”
The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs also condemned the decision, describing it as “capitulation to the persistent and aggressive pressures from anti-Israel extremist groups” and said the company was cooperating with “economic terrorism”.
In a statement on its website, Ben & Jerry’s said it recognized “the concerns we shared with our fans and trusted partners” and concluded that sales are in the occupied territory. Palestinian territories It was “inconsistent with our values,” telling the longtime licensee that the license agreement would not be renewed when it expires at the end of next year. The company plans to continue selling its products in Israel, but through a different arrangement.
Britain’s Unilever Group acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, on the condition that it give the Vermont-based ice cream maker greater autonomy from its other subsidiaries in order to preserve the company’s “cultural and social mission”.
A political source said Ha’aretz There have been concerns that other international companies might follow Ben & Jerry’s lead under pressure from the boycott movement – a Palestinian-led initiative that calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli firms and businesses, which many Israelis denounce as anti-Semitic.
The BDS movement praised Ben & Jerry’s decision as a “critical step toward ending the company’s complicity in the Israeli occupation and violations of Palestinian rights,” but called on the company to do more.
“We hope Ben & Jerry’s have understood that, in keeping with social justice obligations, there can be no business as usual with the apartheid regime in Israel,” she added.
Many companies and other international investors have withdrawn from Israeli settlements or incited a secondary boycott of companies involved in building settlements in recent years. The most famous example was Airbnb, which announced in 2018 that it would remove listings in West Bank settlements but eventually reversed the decision.
The European Union has also applied consistent pressure, deciding in 2019 that member states must identify products made in Israeli settlements on their labels.