Florida to Cut Unilever Investments Within Days Over Ben & Jerry’s West Bank Boycott
In the coming days, the state of Florida is set to stop investing in Unilever, the parent of Ben & Jerry’s, over the ice-cream maker’s decision to cease selling its products in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.
On Aug. 2, Florida added Unilever to its list of scrutinized companies that boycott Israel. Under state law, if Unilever does not cease its boycott of Israel within 90 days of being placed on the list, it becomes subject to an investment prohibition — meaning that Florida will officially divest from the conglomerate Unilever and its subsidiaries when the deadline runs out on Oct. 31, pending a late-breaking reversal of the decision.
“We are approaching that 90-day deadline, and Ben & Jerry’s has not changed its policy, so the state will stop investing in Unilever or contracting with the company,” Governor Ron DeSantis’ office said in an emailed response to The Algemeiner. “Governor DeSantis will not tolerate discrimination against Israel or the Israeli people.”
In July, Ben & Jerry’s announced that it would not renew its license agreement with its current Israeli partner, saying that it was “inconsistent” with its values to sell products in “the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The ice-cream maker promised to continue to sell its products in Israel under a different arrangement.
In previous conversations with state of Florida officials over the summer, Unilever already clarified that the conglomerate had no plans to sway Ben & Jerry’s from terminating its business activities in Israel.
“Given the guidance from Unilever’s investor relations team and the vociferous statements of Ben and Jerry themselves supporting their eponymous company’s decision to engage in the BDS movement, it appears likely that these punitive measures will go into effect,” DeSantis’ office wrote back in August.
About 35 states in the US have anti-Israel boycott laws. Other states, including Arizona, New Jersey, and Texas have already announced that they are taking steps to divest from Unilever following Ben & Jerry’s action.