Israel warned of ‘severe consequences’ following Ben & Jerry’s decision to stop selling ice cream in the occupied territories, and urged US states to invoke anti-boycott laws, reports Reuters.
Monday’s announcement followed pro-Palestinian pressure on the Vermont-based company over its business in Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank handled since 1987 through a licensee partner, Ben & Jerry’s Israel.
Ben & Jerry’s said it would not renew the license when it expires at the end of next year. It said it would stay in Israel under a different arrangement, without sales in the West Bank, among areas where Palestinians seek statehood.
"Vermont-based company says Ben & Jerry's ice cream will stay in Israel through a different arrangement, but won't be sold in the 'occupied Palestinian territories'https://t.co/MTRjL1OgdB
— Palestine Deep Dive (@PDeepdive) July 20, 2021
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said in a statement that he had complained to Unilever Chief Executive Alan Jope about the “glaring anti-Israel measure”.
“From Israel’s standpoint, this action has severe consequences, legal and otherwise, and it will move aggressively against any boycott measure targeting civilians,” Bennett told Jope in a phone conversation, according to the premier’s office.
Unilever did not immediately respond.
Prime Minister Bennett spoke with Alan Jope, CEO of Unilever which owns Ben & Jerry's and made it clear that he views with utmost gravity the decision by Ben & Jerry's to boycott Israel and added that this is a subsidiary of Unilever, which has taken a clearly anti-Israel step.
— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) July 20, 2021
Since 2013, thousands of individuals and 239 organizations in 20 countries, including Israel, and from the District of Columbia and the occupied Palestinian territories, called on Ben & Jerry’s to honor its Social Mission by severing its franchise’s business with Israeli settlements.
The company clearly states on its website that it believes in “using our business to make the world a better place”, including through a commitment “to honoring the rights of all people to live with liberty, security, self-esteem, and freedom of expression and protest” and “achieving equity, opportunity, and justice for communities across the globe that have been historically marginalized.”
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)