Ben & Jerry’s Talks With Unilever Over Israeli Dispute Break Down

The Ben & Jerry’s factory in Be’er Tuvia. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun/File)

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Ben & Jerry’s and its parent Unilever said talks had broken down to resolve their dispute over the sale of the ice cream maker’s Israeli business, which would allow its products to be sold n the West Bank.

In a letter on Monday to U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter in Manhattan, a lawyer for Ben & Jerry’s said two weeks of mediation to settle out of court proved unsuccessful.

He asked Carter to restore Ben & Jerry’s request for a preliminary injunction to block Unilever from selling the Israeli ice cream business to local licensee Avi Zinger.

Unilever has said the sale closed on June 29 and cannot be undone. A lawyer for Unilever said in a separate letter to Carter that the company is prepared for a hearing on the proposed injunction.

A Ben & Jerry’s spokesman declined to comment. Unilever did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ben & Jerry’s had sued Unilever, which has owned the Burlington, Vermont-based company since 2000, on July 5.

It said that by selling the Israeli business, Unilever had reneged on its promise to let the maker of Half Baked, Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey engage in social activism.

Ben & Jerry’s had in July 2021 said it would end ice cream sales in Palestinian territories because it was “inconsistent” with its values.

Israel condemned the move, and some investors, including state pension funds, announced divestments of Unilever securities.

Unilever has more than 400 brands including Dove soap, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Knorr soup and Vaseline skin lotion.

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