Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday warned consumer goods giant Unilever that the decision by its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories would have “serious consequences.”
In a call with Unilever CEO Alan Jope, Bennett said he “viewed with the greatest seriousness” what he called “Ben & Jerry’s decision to boycott Israel,” according to a statement from the United States. Prime Minister’s office.
“From the point of view of the State of Israel, this is an action that has serious consequences, including legal ones, and it will take strong measures against any boycott directed against its citizens,” the statement said.
Ben & Jerry’s said on Monday that selling ice cream in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel was “incompatible with our values”, although it said it planned to continue selling its products in Israel.
The West Bank and East Jerusalem have been under Israeli control since 1967. About 475,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, in communities widely considered illegal under international law, alongside some 2.8 million Palestinians.
Founded in the United States in 1978, Ben & Jerry’s is known for championing progressive causes, including protecting the environment and promoting human rights.
Bennett, who heads an ideologically diverse coalition comprising left-wing critics of the occupation, is a longtime supporter of West Bank settlements and previously headed an influential settler lobbying council.
Bennett’s centrist Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also condemned Ben & Jerry’s move, calling it on Monday a “shameful surrender to anti-Semitism.”
Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also reacted, saying on Twitter that “now we Israelis know what ice cream NOT to buy”.
© 2021 AFP