90 Israeli lawmakers sign letter demanding Unilever scrap Ben & Jerry's boycott

MKs from across political spectrum slam 'severely hypocritical' move by U.S. ice cream brand, saying it is not only harming hundreds of Israeli workers, but Palestinians employed by the company's West Bank distributor

Moran Azulay|
Some 90 lawmakers from all factions in the Knesset on Wednesday signed a letter asking Unilever, which owns Ben & Jerry's, to immediately revoke the ice cream giant's decision not to sell its products in the Israeli settlements.
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  • The Ben & Jerry's ice cream brand - which was acquired by Unilever in 2000 in a deal allowing it to operate with larger autonomy than other subsidiaries - took its decision after pressure from pro-Palestinian groups over its business in Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, handled through a licensee partner since 1987.
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    מפעל ייצור גלידות בן אנד ג'ריס בבאר טוביה
    מפעל ייצור גלידות בן אנד ג'ריס בבאר טוביה
    The Ben & Jerry's plant in Be'er Tuvia
    (Photo: AFP)
    Most countries consider Israeli settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this.
    "On this letter are the signatures of almost all members of the Israeli parliament, from all across the political spectrum," the letter initiated by Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben-Ari said.
    "From the left to the right, religious and secular, Druze and Jewish, men and women. We stand together against the outrageous decision made last week by Ben & Jerry's Global, a company owned by Unilever International.
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    מירב בן ארי
    מירב בן ארי
    Yesh Atid MK Merav Ben-Ari
    (Photo: Hadar Yoavian)
    "This is shameful, abusive behavior and above all a decision that excludes large sections of the very public that Ben & Jerry's world management ostensibly seeks to support," the Knesset members wrote, referring to the Palestinians who are employed by the company's West Bank distributor.
    The lawmakers said the "severely hypocritical" move also hurts hundreds of Israeli laborers who work at two of the company's factories in Israel.
    "This decision goes against Israeli law: the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products and the Ban of Boycotting Areas of Israel," the letter said, urging the company to reconsider.
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    Ben & Jerry's ice cream
    (Photo: Ben&Jerry's)
    "The cross-party cooperation in the Israeli legislature is proof of how morally distorted Univlever's decision is," said MK Ben-Ari. "We will not allow such interference in the laws of the state, which harms hundreds of workers in Israeli industry and hundreds of thousands living in Israel, Jews and Arabs."
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