Ben & Jerry’s—a company famous for its strong stances on progressive issues—announced Monday it will stop selling ice cream in occupied Palestinian territory, a move that follows years of pressure from activists targeting major companies with ties to the controversial Israeli settlements.
The Vermont-based ice cream giant said in a statement posted to its website that it has heard the “concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners” and deemed it “inconsistent with our values” to continue selling products in the occupied territories.
Ben & Jerry’s has for the past three decades licensed a factory in Israel which produces and distributes ice cream in the country, as well as in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The company said it has made the decision not to renew its agreement with the manufacturer when it expires at the end of this year, terminating its sales to occupied Palestinian territory.
However, it will continue to distribute its products within Israel, according to the statement.
“Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement,” explained the company. “We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”
Ben & Jerry’s has often led the pack in terms of companies getting involved with politics, throwing its weight behind a litany of progressive issues like racial justice, global warming, refugee rights, and LGBTQ+ rights. However, its ties to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have for years drawn the ire of progressive activists, who accused the company of hypocrisy for its silence on the hot button issue. The pressure again mounted in May during the deadly Israel-Hamas conflict. Before Monday’s announcement, the brand had not posted on social media since mid-May, after receiving a firestorm of criticism for not addressing the fighting between Israel and Gaza’s militant Hamas leaders.
The settlements are a long-standing source of dispute between Israel and Palestine, and the international community. The United Nations has accused Israel of violating international law, which bars an occupying power from transferring its population to territories captured in war under the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, the U.S., one of Israel’s closest allies, has taken fluctuating positions on the issue. The Trump administration famously reversed the U.S.’s decades-long classification of the settlements as illegal, and President Biden is yet to change the policy.
What To Watch For
A number of other companies have also been targeted by activists to cut their ties with the controversial settlements. In February of last year, the United Nations human rights office released a list of over 100 businesses which it identified as having ties with occupied Palestinian territories. This list included other major U.S.-based companies like AirBnb.