Popular American ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s has said it will stop sales in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & 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 & 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 & 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, B&J is 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 & 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 & 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 & Jerry’s, and conveyed that “he views with utmost gravity the decision by Ben & 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.
*Mahmoud Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.