NEW YORK (AFP) - American ice cream-maker Ben & Jerry's announced on Monday (July 19) they would stop selling their ice cream in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying its sale "is inconsistent with our values."
In a statement, the Unilever subsidiary said they "hear and recognise the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners," without elaborating.
More than 600,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where tensions often flare up between settlers and the Palestinian population. The settlements in the occupied territories are considered illegal by the UN and the international community.
"We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry's ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region," the company said, adding that its license won't be renewed when it expires at the end of 2022.
The company said its products will continue to be sold in Israel "through a different arrangement."
Israeli political figures met the announcement with ire, with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett saying in a statement that "there are lots of ice cream, but we have only one state. Ben & Jerry's decided to brand itself as an anti-Israel ice cream." He called it "a morally wrong decision and I believe it will also turn out to be a business mistake."
In a video, head of Israeli diplomacy Yair Lapid called the move "a disgraceful capitulation to anti-Semitism, to BDS, to all that is bad in the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish discourse," referring to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
"We won't be silent," he said.
Former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu also reacted, saying on Twitter, "Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy."
Founded in 1978, Ben & Jerry's is known for championing progressive causes, including protecting the environment and protecting human rights.