by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – The US-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s announced Monday it will continue doing business with Israel, but will stop sales in Israeli settlements of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, areas it referred to as Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The Israel-targeted Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has pressured Ben & Jerry’s to make such a move for years.
Founded in 1978 by Jewish Americans Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry’s was sold to British conglomerate Unilever in 2000. The company has an established record of championing causes typically associated with the left, including berating the UK for its treatment of immigrants arriving to British shores illegally.
Around 700,000 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas which Israel captured in the Arab-Israeli Six Day War of 1967. Israel considers East Jerusalem to be part of its capital, but officially considers the West Bank to be a disputed area that must be decided upon through negotiations. There are nearly three million Palestinians living in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, with varying degrees of autonomy. Israel retains control of Area C, or 60% of the territory. Area C has around 385,900 Israeli settlers with full rights as citizens, and 300,000 Palestinians living under Israeli military rule.
In its brief statement Monday, Ben & Jerry’s said: “We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners… Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.”
Responding to the announcement, the Israeli foreign ministry called Ben & Jerry’s decision a “surrender” to extreme pressure from anti-Israel groups.“The decision is immoral and discriminatory, as it singles out Israel, harms both Israelis and Palestinians, and encourages extremist groups who use bullying tactics,” the ministry said in a statement.
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