Unilever CEO ‘absolutely dedicated’ to Israel enterprise after Ben & Jerry’s stops promoting in occupied territories

Tubs of ice-cream are seen as a laborer works at Ben & Jerry’s manufacturing facility in Be’er Tuvia, Israel July 20, 2021.

Ronen Zvulun | Reuters

Unilever‘s CEO, Alan Jope, informed traders throughout a convention name Thursday that the corporate stays dedicated to its companies in Israel after its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, introduced earlier this week that it will stop the sale of its ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The ice cream maker, identified for its left-leaning political stances, made the transfer after going through backlash on-line for its enterprise within the occupied territories. Unilever’s CEO sought to distance the dad or mum firm from the choice, saying it was made independently by Ben & Jerry’s.

“Unilever stays absolutely dedicated to our enterprise in Israel,” Jope mentioned. “This was a call that was taken by Ben & Jerry’s and its impartial board in keeping with an acquisition settlement that we signed 20 years in the past.”

“I can guarantee you it isn’t our intent to commonly go to issues of this, the place sensitivity has been a long-standing situation for Ben & Jerry’s,” Jope mentioned.

“We had been conscious of this determination by its model – by the model and its impartial board, however definitely [it’s] not our intention that each quarter we’ll have one fairly as fiery as this one,” Jope mentioned.

Ben & Jerry’s announced on Monday it is not going to renew its partnership with its licensee, which manufactures and distributes the corporate’s ice cream in Israel within the area, when the partnership settlement expires on the finish of subsequent 12 months.

Nevertheless, Ben & Jerry’s plans to stay in Israel by one other association that the corporate has not but introduced.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has vowed to act aggressively towards Ben & Jerry’s determination, telling Unilever’s CEO the transfer would have “severe penalties, authorized and in any other case.”

In response to Ben & Jerry’s transfer, Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma referred to as for a block of all Ben & Jerry’s gross sales in his dwelling state in keeping with state legal guidelines.

Oklahoma passed an anti-boycott of Israel legislation in 2020, which acknowledges Israel as a outstanding buying and selling associate and prevents the state from doing enterprise with any firm that’s engaged in a boycott of Israel.

Ben & Jerry’s is just not the primary firm to search out itself tangled in controversy over enterprise within the occupied Palestinian territories. In 2018, the holiday rental website Airbnb mentioned it was banning listings of Israeli property within the West Financial institution, territory Palestinians declare needs to be a part of their state. 

— The Related Press contributed to this report.

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