A new agreement in Israel will put Ben & Jerry’s ice cream back on shelves in annexed East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, despite the ice-maker’s protest against Israeli policies, according to Unilever, the company that owns it. Brand.
But it’s unclear whether the product, which would be sold only in Hebrew and Arabic letters, would still appeal to Ben & Jerry’s fans or gain the backing of the Vermont company, which has long supported pressing global causes.
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Israel hailed the move as a victory in its ongoing campaign against the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. BDS wants to put economic pressure on Israel because of the military occupation of land the Palestinians want for a future state.
Unilever, which acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2000 but backed down from the ice-cream maker’s decision to stop sales in the territories last year, said Wednesday it had sold its business stake in Israel to a local company called Ben & Jerry’s. ice cream under its Hebrew and Arabic name throughout Israel and the West Bank.
When Ben & Jerry’s was sold, the companies agreed that the ice cream maker’s independent board would be free to pursue its social mission, including long-term support for many liberal causes.
But Unilever would have the last word on financial and operational decisions.
Unilever said it has “taken the opportunity over the past year to listen to perspectives on this complex and sensitive issue and believe it is the best outcome for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.”
In its statement, Unilever reiterated that it does not support the BDS movement. It said it is “very proud” of its company in Israel, where it employs about 2,000 people and has four factories.
There was no immediate response from Ben & Jerry’s. A spokeswoman pointed to Unilever’s announcement.
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