Ben & Jerry’s has hit back at its owner Unilever for forcibly ending its boycott of Israel, saying selling its ice cream in occupied Palestinian territories remains "inconsistent" with its values.
Unilever overruled Ben & Jerry’s independent board on Wednesday by selling the division’s Israeli operations to its franchise partner in the country. The move came after the ice cream brand stopped sales of its product in occupied Palestinian territories in a political protest.
Writing on Twitter, Ben & Jerry's said:
We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry's values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) June 29, 2022
The company said the sale means Ben & Jerry’s will no longer profit from its ice cream in Israel.
Unilever yesterday slapped down Ben & Jerry's stance on selling in the region, saying it "rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance".
Ben & Jerry's was bought by Unilever in 2000 but was allowed to have an independent board, effectively allowing it to make its own decisions on what it sells and where.
Its board is known for taking left-wing political stances and earlier this year criticised US President Joe Biden for his foreign policy in Ukraine, saying: "Sending thousands more US troops to Europe in response to Russia’s threats against Ukraine only fans the flame of war."
The ice cream brand announced its boycott of occupied Palestinian territories last summer but Unilever stepped in to overrule the board, saying it still has "primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions" that gave it the right to sell interests in Israel.
Unilever has sold the business to Avi Zinger, the owner of American Quality Products, which has been making and selling Ben & Jerry’s in Israel for the past 34 years. The brand will continue to be sold across Israel and in the West Bank under its Hebrew and Arabic names.
Unilever said it had "used the opportunity of the past year to listen to perspectives on this complex and sensitive matter and believes this is the best outcome for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel".