July 20 (UPI) — U.S. ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s announced it will no longer sell its products in Israeli occupied territories, saying “it is inconsistent with our values.”
The Vermont-based company known for taking strong political stances made the announcement in a statement Monday, saying it has informed its longstanding licensee that manufactures and distributes its products throughout the region that it will not renew their agreement when it expires at the end of the year.
“Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the [Occupied Palestinian Territories], we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement,” the company said. “We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”
Ben & Jerry’s has been working with the licensee partner in Israel since 1987, according to its website.
The move is a protest against Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights areas, which the United Nations has deemed a violation of its resolutions and international law.
The announcement came more than a month after the pro-Palestinian organization Vermonters for Justice in Palestine called on Ben & Jerry’s to “end their complicity in Israel’s Jewish-only settlement regime.”
In a statement on Monday, the organization said Ben & Jerry’s actions did not go far enough, calling on the company to end the marketing, catering and sales of its products in Israel and issue a statement “calling on Israel to end its occupation and settlement enterprise” while calling on other companies to do the same.
“By maintaining a presence in Israel, Ben & Jerry’s continues to be complicit in the killing, imprisonment and dispossession of Palestinian people and the flaunting of international law,” said VTJP member Kathy Shapiro.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett rebuked Ben & Jerry’s, saying its decision to pull out of those markets is both morally and commercially wrong.
“Ben & Jerry’s has decided to brand itself as the anti-Israel ice cream,” he said in a statement. “The boycott against Israel — a democracy surrounded by islands of terrorism — reflects a total loss of way.”
Israel’s interior minister Ayelet Shaked also chided the company, saying its ice cream is “inconsistent with our taste.”
“We’ll do fine without you,” she said via Twitter.
However, Aida Touma-Sliman, a member of the Israeli parliament the Knesset, welcomed the move as “just and moral.”
“The Occupied Palestinian Territories are not a part of Israel — stopping sales in them will help put pressure for the end of the occupation,” said the member of the Arab-majority Joint List alliance. “Hopefully B&J are not the last to take this step.”