The ice cream tub is believed to be workers working at Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia, Israel, on July 20, 2021.
Ronen Zvulun | Reuters
Unilever CEO Alan Jope continues to do business in Israel at a conference call Thursday after announcing to investors that its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s will stop selling ice cream in the occupied Palestinian Autonomous Region earlier this week. He said he was working on it.
Known for its left-wing politics, the ice cream maker has begun to move after facing an online backlash in its business in the occupied territories. Unilever’s CEO said Ben & Jerry’s did it on his own and tried to keep the parent company away from the decision.
“Unilever continues to do its utmost to do business in Israel,” said Jope. “This was a decision made by Ben & Jerry’s and its independent directors in line with the acquisition agreement signed 20 years ago.”
“We can assure you that regular visits to this issue, which has long been a problem for Ben & Jerry’s, are not our intention,” said Jope.
“We were aware of this decision by its brand, that is, by the brand and its independent board of directors, but certainly [its] It’s not our intention to have something as intense every quarter. “
Ben & Jerry’s announced on Monday that it would not renew its partnership with a licensee that manufactures and sells its ice cream in Israel in the region when the partnership agreement expires at the end of next year.
However, Ben & Jerry’s plans to stay in Israel through another arrangement that the company has not yet announced.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has vowed to act positively on Ben & Jerry’s decision and told Unilever’s CEO that the move has “legal and other significant consequences.”
In response to Ben & Jerry’s move, Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford demanded a block of all Ben & Jerry’s sales in his home state, in line with state law.
Oklahoma passed Israeli anti-boycott legislation in 2020. The law recognizes Israel as a prominent trading partner and prevents the state from doing business with companies engaged in Israeli boycotts.
Ben & Jerry’s is not the first company to be involved in a business controversy over occupied Palestinian territory. In 2018, rental site Airbnb said it banned a list of Israeli real estate on the west bank of the Jordan River. Palestinians claim to be part of their state.
–The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Unilever is working on Israeli business
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