MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Ben & Jerry’s said Monday it was going to stop selling its ice cream in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and contested east Jerusalem, saying the sales in occupied Palestinian territories are “inconsistent with our values.”
The announcement was one of the strongest and highest-profile rebukes by a well-known company of Israel’s policy of settling its citizens on war-won lands. The settlements are widely seen by the international community as illegal and obstacles to peace.
The move by the Vermont-based ice cream company drew swift reproach from Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a former leader of the West Bank settlement movement who called it “an immoral decision and I believe that it will turn out to be a business mistake, too.”
The company informed its longstanding licensee — responsible for manufacturing and distributing the ice cream in Israel — that it will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year, according to a statement posted on the Vermont-based company’s website.
The Ben & Jerry’s statement cited “the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners.”
The company did not explicitly identify those concerns, but last month, a group called Vermonters for Justice in Palestine called on Ben & Jerry’s to “end complicity in Israel’s occupation and abuses of Palestinian human rights.”
“How much longer will Ben & Jerry’s permit its Israeli-manufactured ice cream to be sold in Jewish-only settlements while Palestinian land is being confiscated, Palestinian homes are being destroyed, and Palestinian families in neighborhoods like Sheik Jarrah are facing eviction to make way for Jewish settlers?” the organization’s Ian Stokes said in a June 10 news release.
Ben & Jerry’s move on Monday may not be the final chapter in the saga. Airbnb announced in 2018 that it would stop advertising properties in Israeli settlements. Several months later, after coming under harsh criticism from Israel and a federal lawsuit by Israeli Americans who owned property in the settlements, the company reversed its decision.