Ben & Jerry's has distanced itself from its parent company Unilever following the decision to sell its business interests in Israel to a local company – the result of which paves the way for a return to sales of the company's ice cream products in the West Bank.
On Wednesday, Unilever announced that it had sold Ben & Jerry's business interests to Avi Zinger, the current licensee in Israel.
"We are aware of the Unilever announcement. While our parent company has taken this decision, we do not agree with it," Ben & Jerry's said in a statement.
"Unilever's arrangement means Ben & Jerry's in Israel will be owned and operated by AQP. Our company will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry's in Israel. Ben & Jerry's," it continued, adding "we continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry's values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory."
The Vermont-based ice cream company, which launched in 1978, has long been associated with progressive values, but had largely avoided supporting the Palestinian cause until last summer, when last year's flare-up between Israel and Hamas grabbed headlines around the world.
In July 2021, the company released a statement saying that it believed it was “inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” and that while “Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement.”
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In March, Zinger, the owner of the current Israel-based licensee, announced that his company was suing Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever in U.S. federal court.
According to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in March, where Unilever is headquartered, Zinger alleged that the decision by Ben & Jerry’s violated both U.S. and Israeli law, and the court must enable AQP to continue selling Ben & Jerry’s products unabated.