Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the head of Unilever that Israel would “act aggressively” against Ben & Jerry’s following the branch’s decision to stop selling its ice cream in the occupied and disputed West Bank in Jerusalem. Is.
British consumer goods conglomerate Unilever acquired the Vermont-based ice cream company in 2000. Ben & Jerry’s said Monday it informed its long-time licensee – responsible for the manufacture and distribution of ice cream in Israel – that it would not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of 2022.
Bennett’s office said he spoke to Unilever chief executive Alan Jope about what he called Ben & Jerry’s “clearly anti-Israel move”, adding that the move would have “serious consequences. , legal and others, and that it would act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens ”.
The ad was one of the most high-profile corporate reprimands against Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war. These settlements are illegal under international law and are widely regarded. as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
About 700,000 Israelis now live in settlements, around 500,000 in the occupied West Bank and 200,000 in East Jerusalem. Israel views all of Jerusalem as its capital, while Palestinians seek it as the capital of a future state.
Ben & Jerry’s said that the sale of its ice cream in the territories the Palestinians seek for an independent state was “incompatible with our values”.
Israel’s foreign ministry criticized the decision on Monday as “a surrender to continued and aggressive pressure from extreme anti-Israel groups” and said the company was cooperating with “economic terrorism.”
Avi Zinger, managing director of Ben & Jerry’s Israel, told public broadcaster Kan on Tuesday that the parent company had long urged him to cease distribution in the territories occupied by Israel, but he refused because it would violate Israeli law.
He called Ben & Jerry’s decision not to extend his license as the “greatest achievement” of the BDS movement which advocates boycott, divestment and sanctions from Israeli institutions and companies in a non-violent campaign against Israeli abuses of Palestinians. .