The chief executive of Unilever says the global consumer goods giant remains “fully committed” to doing business in Israel, distancing himself from this week’s announcement by the company’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand that it will stop serving Israel’s West Bank settlements.
But CEO Alan Jope gives no indication that Unilever would force Ben & Jerry’s to roll back its controversial decision. In a conference call with investors, Jope says Ben & Jerry’s, which has a long history of social activism, had made the decision on its own.
He notes that under its purchase agreement with Ben & Jerry’s in 2000, the company maintained broad independence over its social justice policies and that Unilever respected that arrangement.
“Obviously it’s a complex and sensitive matter that elicits very strong feelings,” he says. “If there is one message I want to underscore in this call, it’s that Unilever remains fully committed to our business in Israel.”