Ben and Jerry's plant in Be'er Tuvia in Israel

Unilever CEO says fully committed to Israel amid Ben & Jerry's row

After Prime Minister Bennett warned multinational corporation of 'severe consequences,' Alan Jope says U.S. ice cream makers' decision to stop sales in the Palestinian territories was made independently

Reuters |
Published: 07.22.21, 14:52
Unilever's chief executive on Thursday said the company was "fully committed" to Israel, days after coming under Israeli pressure over a decision by its subsidiary Ben & Jerry's to end ice cream sales in the Palestinian territories.
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  • The Ben & Jerry's ice cream brand 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.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    מפעל ייצור גלידות בן אנד ג'ריס בבאר טוביה
    מפעל ייצור גלידות בן אנד ג'ריס בבאר טוביה
    Ben and Jerry's plant in Be'er Tuvia in Israel
    (Photo: AFP)
    Most countries consider Israeli settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this.
    "I think if there's one message I want to underscore ... it's that Unilever remains fully committed to our business in Israel," CEO Alan Jope told investors during an earnings call.
    He said the group had invested 1 billion shekels ($306 million) in Israel over the past decade and was invested in its startup culture and social programs.
    "This was a decision taken by Ben & Jerry's and its independent board ... and we always recognize the importance of that agreement," he said.
    2 צפייה בגלריה
    Unilever CEO Alan Jope
    Unilever CEO Alan Jope
    Unilever CEO Alan Jope
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Ben & Jerry's, which has built a reputation as a supporter of social justice causes, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and LGBTQ+ rights campaigns, was acquired by Unilever in 2000 in a deal allowing it to operate with more autonomy than other subsidiaries.
    Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned Unilever on Tuesday about "severe consequences" from Ben & Jerry's decision, calling it an anti-Israel step.
    The decision has led to a clash between Unilever and Ben & Jerry's independent board, whose chair says it was not consulted on the decision to stay in Israel under a "different arrangement".
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