Popular American ice cream maker Ben amp; Jerry’s has said it will stop sales in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben amp; Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners,” the Vermont-based ice cream company said in a statement on Monday.
The West Bank and East Jerusalem are both considered occupied territories under international law and all Jewish settlement activity there is illegal.
A UN special rapporteur has also declared that Israeli settlements “amount to a war crime.”
“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben amp; Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year,” the company said.
The move by Ben amp; Jerry’s has been welcomed by Palestinians.
“This decision is just and moral. The Occupied Palestinian Territories are not a part of Israel – and stopping sales in them will help put pressure for the end of the occupation. Hopefully Bamp;J are not the last to take this step,” tweeted Aida Touma-Suleiman, a Palestinian politician and a member of Israel’s Knesset since 2015.
The Boycott, Divestment amp; Sanctions (BDS) movement, which has long sought to end international support for Israel, hailed the decision “as a decisive step towards ending the company’s complicity in Israel’s occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.”
“We warmly welcome their decision but call on Ben amp; Jerry's to end all operations in apartheid Israel,” the movement said.
Israel’s prime minister, meanwhile, denounced what he termed “a clearly anti-Israel step.”
Naftali Bennett spoke to Alan Jope, chief executive of Unilever, the parent company of Ben amp; Jerry’s, and conveyed that “he views with utmost gravity the decision by Ben amp; Jerry's to boycott Israel,” the Israeli premier’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.
He warned that “this is an action that has severe consequences, including legal” and that Israel “will take strong action against any boycott directed against its citizens,” the statement added.