Latest NewsUnilever Sells Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Business in Israel

Unilever Sells Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Business in Israel

Unilever on Wednesday sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel to its local licensee for an undisclosed sum, directing to smooth over a possibly damaging diplomatic row.

The deal comes after the U.S. ice cream brand announced last year it would stop marketing products in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying that selling there was “inconsistent” with its values.

The episode emphasized the challenges facing consumer groups taking a stand on Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians, such as the San Francisco-based Airbnb, which in 2019 inverted its decision to delist Israeli settlements.

The international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement pursues to isolate Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.

On Wednesday, Israel’s foreign ministry called the Ben & Jerry’s deal “a huge victory.”

“We will fight delegitimization and the BDS campaign in every arena, whether in the public square, in the economic sphere or in the moral realm,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a declaration.

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream:

Under the new agreement Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will be obtainable to all consumers in Israel and the occupied West Bank.

The new owner is the brand’s long-time Israeli ice cream licensee Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products. Zinger had sued Ben & Jerry’s after its decision in the West Bank, saying the company illegally detached their 34-year relationship.

“The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee,” Unilever said.

Ben & Jerry’s and its independent board preserved the right to decide on its social mission when it accepted by Unilever in 2000. But Unilever said it “reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions. Therefore has the right to enter this arrangement.”

Israel captured the West Bank, part of the territory Palestinians wants for an independent state, in a 1967 Middle East war. Maximum countries consider Israeli settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this.

“The return of Ben and Jerry’s to Israeli settlements, which built on Palestinian land, exposes it to international legal accountability. And its name will be on the United Nations blacklist of companies operating in settlements,” The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Wasel Abu Yusef told Reuters.

Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, said the deal sought. To weaken the “principled decision” to stop selling the ice cream in Israeli payments.

“What comes next may look and taste similar, but, without Ben & Jerry’s recognized social justice values, it’s just a pint of ice cream,” he said in a declaration.

Ben & Jerry’s well known for its pledge to social justice. It has freshly voiced strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and electoral campaign finance reform.

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