Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned Unilever Plc CEO Alan Jope that Ben & Jerry’s plans to halt sales in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem areas will have “serious legal and non-material repercussions.” “.
Bennett dit the Unilever ice cream brand had taken a “blatant step against Israel” and that the government would act aggressively against any boycott aimed at its citizens. The territories, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war, are claimed by the Palestinians as the core of a future state.
Ben & Jerry’s, founded in Vermont in 1978, has a history of publicly embracing socially progressive causes, from same-sex marriage to the Black Lives Matter movement. When it was bought by consumer goods giant Unilever two decades ago, Ben & Jerry’s insisted on maintaining its own advice and maintaining independence over its social mission and brand integrity.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in occupied Palestinian territory,” flavor maker Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey said this Monday in a statement.
The company plans to end a long-standing partnership by the end of next year with the licensee that manufactures Ben & Jerry’s in Israel and distributes it in the region.