Ben & Jerry’s to End Ice-Cream Sales in West Bank
American ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry’s on Monday said it will stop marketing its products in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” saying that selling there was “inconsistent” with company values.
The South Burlington, Vermont-based company, which is owned by Britain’s Unilever Plc, has come under pressure from pro-Palestinian groups over its business in Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which is handled through a licensee partner since 1987.
On Monday, Ben & Jerry’s said it would not renew its license agreement with its Israeli partner when it expires at the end of next year. It will, however, stay in Israel under a different arrangement, without sales in the Palestinian territories.
Unilever, in a separate statement, said it remains “fully committed” to its presence in Israel. It said it has always recognized Ben & Jerry’s right “to take decisions about its social mission.”
“We also welcome the fact that Ben & Jerry’s will stay in Israel,” Unilever said.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the move was a “morally wrong decision” that would also prove to be a financial mistake.
“There are many ice creams, but we have only one country,” he said.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid called it a “shameful surrender to antisemitism, to BDS and to all that is wrong with the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse.”
Ben & Jerry’s operates a manufacturing facility and two scoop shops in Israel, which it describes on its website as being located “outside the occupied territories, just south of Tel Aviv.”
Ben & Jerry’s was acquired by Unilever in 2000 in a unique deal that allows it to operate with more autonomy than other subsidiaries.
It uses that independence to pursue a cultural and social mission that has recently included strongly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights and electoral campaign finance reform.