Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett warned the head of Unilever that Israel will “act aggressively” against Ben & Jerry’s over the subsidiary’s decision to stop selling its ice cream in the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Ben & Jerry’s said in a statement earlier that its longstanding licensee for distribution won’t be renewed when it expires at the end of 2022.
The Ben & Jerry’s announcement was one of the highest-profile corporate rebukes of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 war.
Most of the international community considers these settlements illegal under international law and an impediment to peace with the Palestinians.
Approximately 700,000 Israelis now live in settlements. Israel considers the entirety of Jerusalem its capital, while East Jerusalem is seen as the capital of a future Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution.
Ben & Jerry’s said in its announcement that the sale of its ice cream in territories sought by the Palestinians for an independent state was “inconsistent with our values”.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement said on Monday it “warmly welcomes” Ben & Jerry’s decision but called on the company to “end all operations in apartheid Israel”.
“We hope Ben and Jerry’s has understood that, in harmony with its social justice commitments, there can be no business as usual in apartheid Israel,” BDS said in a statement.