Bennett Warns Unilever of “Severe Consequences” From Ben & Jerry’s Decision

YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters) -
Ben & Jerry’s ice creams on sale at a shop in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel warned consumer goods giant Unilever Plc on Tuesday of “severe consequences” from a decision by subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling ice cream in Yehudah and Shomron, and urged U.S. states to invoke anti-boycott laws.

The Ben & Jerry’s announcement on Monday followed pro-Palestinian pressure on the South Burlington, Vermont-based company over its business in Israel and Yehudah and Shomron.

Ben & Jerry’s said it would not renew the license when it expires at the end of next year. It said it would stay in Israel under a different arrangement, without sales in areas where Palestinians seek statehood.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office said he spoke with Unilever CEO Alan Jope about the “glaring anti-Israel measure” by the ice cream maker.

“From Israel’s standpoint, this action has severe consequences, legal and otherwise, and it will move aggressively against any boycott measure targeting civilians,” Bennett told Jope, according to the statement from his office.

Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, said he had raised the Ben & Jerry’s decision in a letter sent to 35 U.S. governors whose states legislated against boycotting Israel.

“Rapid and determined action must be taken to counter such discriminatory and antisemitic actions,” read the letter, tweeted by the envoy, which likened the case to Airbnb’s 2018 announcement that it would delist rental properties in Yehudah and Shomron.

Airbnb reversed that decision in 2019 following legal challenges in the United States, but said it would donate profits from bookings in the settlements to humanitarian causes.