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U.S.-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s announced Monday that it will end all sales in Judea and Samaria in the West Bank. The move drew immediate condemnation from Israelis.
In a statement the company details, “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)” referring to the official UN terminology for Judea and Samaria. “We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners,” the text reads.
“We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year,” the missive continues.
The company also assured that it would continue to operate in Israel “through a different arrangement.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in response to Ben & Jerry’s decision, said that there are many ice creams while the country is only one. And he pointed out that the company decided to brand itself as anti-Israeli ice cream.
“This is a morally wrong decision and I believe it will also prove to be a commercial mistake. Boycotting Israel, a democracy surrounded by terrorist islands, reflects a total loss of direction,” Bennett said.
While former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed his rejection of such a decision. “Now we Israelis know what ice cream NOT to buy,” he wrote on Twitter.r.
For its part, the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization representing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, issued a harsh message on Twitter in which it stated that: “unfortunately the ice cream company has decided to boycott Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley and as a consequence lay off hundreds of Israelis who work for it in the south where it manufactures its products.”
The organization further said that “there is no need to buy products that boycott hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens just because of where they chose to live, and we expect this company to retract its discriminatory decision.”