Ben & Jerry's sues Unilever over Israeli deal
Ben & Jerry's decides to take legal arms against their parent company, Unilever, over a deal that would allow for ice cream sales in illegal Israeli settlements.
Ben & Jerry's has moved toward taking legal action against the parent company Unilever to block the sale of its Israeli business to an Israeli licensee. The ice cream giant said it the inconsistent with its values to have its products sold in the occupied West Bank.
The company filed its complaint in the US district court in Manhattan, which said the sale announced on June 29 threatened to undermine the social integrity of the Ben & Jerry's brand. The Ben & Jerry's board fought to retain its independence and protect it upon Unilever's acquisition of the company in 2000.
The ice-cream manufacturer said an injunction against transferring their business and other related trademarks to Avi Zinger, the Israeli manufacturer and distributor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and the owner of American Quality Products Ltd, was crucial "to protect the brand and social integrity Ben and Jerry's has spent decades building."
The decision to press charges against Unilever was taken with five board members in favor and two against. The objectors were both handpicked by Unilever for a chair on the board.
The dispute over the sale of Ben & Jerry's products highlights the challenges companies are facing when it comes to their stances against the Israeli occupation for its seizure of more Palestinian land and establishing illegal settlements atop the rubbles of Palestinian homes.
Far from the media cameras, Israeli occupation forces are bulldozing a whole community in #MasaferYatta to leave #Palestinians living there with no home. #Palestine #SaveMasaferYatta pic.twitter.com/k8GN2SjenE— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) July 5, 2022
Ben & Jerry's founders have declared support for the Israeli occupation, though they underlined their opposition to the illegal occupation of the West Bank.
The statements came following a decision by Ben & Jerry's to end sales in the occupied West Bank and parts of occupied Al-Quds, severing a three-decade relationship with Zinger.
The decision prompted an uproar from the Israeli occupation, with "Tel Aviv" condemning it and several groups labeling the company as "antisemitic". Some investors even divested their holdings in Unilever over the decision.
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The majority of countries see the Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal, including the United States, though Washington has been funding the occupation and is yet to staunchly oppose its settlement expansion and policy of uprooting the Palestinian people.
The Israeli occupation's latest round of approving the expansion of illegal settlements came in mid-May, with "Tel Aviv" advancing plans for 4,427 illegal settlement units for settlers in the occupied West Bank.
The news of potential expansion came as Israeli crimes in the West Bank continue and just one day after veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed in cold blood by the IOF in Jenin.
The expansion of settlements has been taking place in the West Bank since 1967, despite occupied Palestine and the majority of the world decrying the illegitimate process.
Settlement expansion surged under former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and during Trump's administration, and former PM Naftali Bennett is the former head of a settlement lobby himself. Bennett's government claimed it had different plans than Netanyahu's but follows similar policies.
About half a million Israeli settlers live in the occupied Palestinian territories, with many more even wanting to move there, Elhayani added, not taking into consideration the rights and needs of the Palestinians as they uproot them from their lands.
Ahead of the decision to expand illegal settlements, the Israeli occupation forces demolished at least 18 structures in the occupied West Bank, including 12 residential buildings, following a Supreme Court decision that would force around 1,000 Palestinians out of an area the Israelis had designated a firing zone.