Arizona announced on Tuesday that it would pull all public funds it has invested in ice cream parlor chain Ben & Jerry's after the company announced it would ban sales of its products in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
The announcement came last July following pressure from pro-Palestinian groups on the Vermont-based company over its business in Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, handled through a licensee partner since 1987.
"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 recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners," the company wrote on Twitter in July without specifying what it considered "Occupied Palestinian Territory."
The company also said it will not renew the license agreement with its Israeli franchise when it expires at the end of next year.
Arizona state treasurer Kimberly Yee — a Republican who is running for governor of her state — said the decision to pull all public funds invested in the frozen dessert company was in compliance with a 2019 state law that bars Arizona government agencies from holding investments or doing more than $100,000 in business with any firm that boycotts Israel or its territories.
"Arizona created a national movement holding companies accountable for boycotting Israel by divesting public funds from woke companies," Yee posted on her Twitter feed. “Israel is and will continue to be a major trade partner of AZ. #IStandWithIsrael and I will not allow taxpayer dollars to go towards anti-Semitic, discriminatory efforts against Israel.”
Arizona was the first state to have fully divested itself from Ben and Jerry's parent company, Unilever, while Illinois and Florida, among other states, warned they would pull any public-funded investments if the company's board does not change its decision within three months.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Gilad Erdan appealed to 35 states that had passed anti-boycott laws to take steps to sanction the frozen dessert franchise for its policy.
First published: 14:42, 09.22.21