JERUSALEM ( Associated Press) — A new agreement in Israel will put Ben & Jerry’s ice cream back on shelves in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, despite the ice cream maker’s opposition to Israel’s policies, according to Unilever. is the owner of.
But it’s not clear whether the product, which will be sold with only Hebrew and Arabic letters, will still appeal to fans of Ben & Jerry’s or gain the support of the Vermont company, which has long supported liberal causes.
Israel saw the move as a victory in its ongoing campaign against the Palestinian-led boycott, partition and sanctions movement. The purpose of the BDS is to put economic pressure on Israel for military occupation of the land desired by the Palestinians for a future state.
Unilever, which acquired Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, but distanced itself from the ice cream maker’s decision In a bid to halt sales in the regions last year, it said on Wednesday it had sold its business interest in Israel to a local company that would sell Ben & Jerry’s ice cream under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank.
When Ben & Jerry’s went on sale, the companies agreed that the ice cream maker’s independent board would be free to pursue its social mission, which includes long-standing support for a number of philanthropic causes.
But the final decision on financial and operational decisions will rest with Unilever.
Unilever said it has “used the opportunity of the past year to hear perspectives on this complex and sensitive matter and believes this 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 business in Israel, where it employs about 2,000 people and has four manufacturing plants.
There was no immediate comment from Ben & Jerry’s. A spokesperson pointed to Unilever’s announcement.
But the reaction to the new agreement came quickly.
Omar Shakir, director of Human Rights Watch for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, said Unilever seeks to undermine Ben & Jerry’s “principled decision” to avoid complicity in Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights, which his organization calls apartheid. IsAn allegation Israel vehemently denies.
“It won’t succeed: Ben & Jerry’s won’t do business in illegal settlements. What comes next may look and taste similar, but without Ben & Jerry’s recognized social justice values, it’s just a pint of ice cream.” .
Israel applauded the decision and thanked governors and other elected officials in the United States and elsewhere for supporting their campaign against the BDS. It said Unilever consulted its foreign ministry throughout the process.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “Even when it comes to ice cream, anti-semitism will not defeat us.” “We will fight illegalization and the BDS campaign in every field, whether in the public sector, in the economic sector or in the moral sphere.”
The BDS, an umbrella group supported by almost all Palestinian civil society, presents itself as a nonviolent protest movement based on a boycott campaign against apartheid South Africa. It does not take an official position on how the Israeli–Palestinian conflict should be resolved, and it officially rejects anti-Semitism.
Israel sees the BDS as an attack on its legitimacy, partly due to excessive views by some of its supporters. Israel also pointed to the group’s support for the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees – which would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state – and BDS leaders supporting a two-state solution to the conflict. refused to do.
Ben & Jerry’s decision was not a complete boycott, and appears to have been aimed at Israel’s settlement venture. About 700,000 Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which Israel has occupied and considers part of its capital. Israel occupied both territories in the 1967 Middle East war, and Palestinians want them to be part of their future state.
Most of the international community sees the settlements as a violation of international law. Palestinians consider them the main obstacle to peace as they absorb and divide the land. on which the future Palestinian state will be founded. Each Israeli government has expanded settlements, including during the height of the peace process in the 1990s.