Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told Israelis “NOT to buy” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, after the American company announced it would stop selling its products in occupied Palestinian territories.
In a statement on Monday, Ben & Jerry’s declared, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).”
The company revealed that although it has a “longstanding partnership” with a licensee “who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region,” they “have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.”
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Despite this, Ben & Jerry’s will “stay in Israel through a different arrangement,” with the pulling of sales taking place only in areas considered to be occupied by Israel, such as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Though it appears Ben & Jerry’s iconic ice cream will still be available to Israelis in most of the region, Netanyahu protested the decision on Twitter, writing, “Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy.”
Ben & Jerry’s Israel also criticized the announcement, calling it “an unprecedented action by Unilever,” the brand’s parent company. The Israeli branch of the ice-cream giant added that “Ice cream is not part of politics” and called on the Israeli government and the consumer public “not to allow Israel to be boycotted.”
In its own statement, Unilever said the Israel-Palestine conflict is a “very complex and sensitive situation,” but that it remains “fully committed” to its presence in Israel.
Unilever noted, however, that as part of its acquisition agreement with Ben & Jerry’s, it has “always recognised the right of the brand and its independent Board to take decisions about its social mission.”
Jewish Voice for Peace supported Ben & Jerry’s decision, calling it a testament “to growing public support for Palestinian freedom” and encouraging the company to extend its stopping of sales “throughout all areas where Palestinians need freedom.”
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