July 19 (Reuters) – American ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry’s on Monday said it would stop marketing its products in the occupied Palestinian territories, bowing to Palestinian pressure campaigns and saying that selling there was “inconsistent” with company values.
The South Burlington, Vermont-based company, which is owned by Britain’s Unilever Plc, has come under pressure from pro-Palestinian groups over its business in Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, which is handled through a licensee partner since 1987.
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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, whose party favors Jewish settlements in the West Bank, said Ben & Jerry’s was making a “morally wrong” decision.
More than 440,000 Israeli settlers live uneasily among some 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank, land that Israel captured and occupied in a 1967 war but which Palestinians say is the heartland of a future state.
Most countries consider Israeli settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this.
On Monday, Ben & Jerry’s said it would not renew its license agreement with its Israeli partner when it expires at the end of next year. It will, however, stay in Israel under a different arrangement, without sales in the Palestinian territories.
Unilever, in a separate statement, said it remains “fully committed” to its presence in Israel. It said it has always recognized Ben & Jerry’s right “to take decisions about its social mission”.
“We also welcome the fact that Ben & Jerry’s will stay in Israel,” Unilever said.