Israeli leaders threaten Ben & Jerry’s following West Bank pullout decision
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have both reacted furiously to a decision by Ben & Jerry’s to stop selling its products at illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Bennett blasted the company, warning that the move could have serious repercussions, legal and otherwise".
"Ben & Jerry's decided to brand itself as anti-Israel ice cream," he said. "The boycott against Israel… reflects that they have totally lost their way. The boycott doesn't work and won't work and we will fight it with all our might."
The US ice cream giant on Monday issued a statement saying: "We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognise the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners."
Ben & Jerry's said that it will continue to supply ice cream in Israel through a different distribution agreement.
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said that Ben & Jerry's decision to pull out of Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land was "antisemitic".
He called it "a disgraceful capitulation to antisemitism, to BDS [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement], to all that is evil in the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish discourse".
Lapid threatened retaliatory measures against the US ice cream company, The Times of Israel reported.
Over 30 US states have laws against the BDS movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories and human rights violations against Palestinians by discouraging investment in Israel and promoting boycotts of goods produced in the country.
Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, who has previously called for the killing of Palestinian civilians, tweeted: "Your ice cream brand doesn't match our tastes. We'll be fine without you."
Pro-Palestinian activists have hailed Ben & Jerry's decision to pull out of the occupied West Bank.
The chairman of the company's board of directors, Anuradha Mittal, claimed that the company had been trying for years to withdraw its products from the occupied Palestinian territories but was prevented by its parent company Unilever, NBC News reported.
Ben & Jerry’s has a history of taking strong positions on issues of racial and social justice.
A US-based advocacy group, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, had previously conducted a 10-year-campaign calling for Ben & Jerry’s to withdraw from the occupied West Bank.