The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry on Tuesday praised a decision by the American ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s to end sales in West Bank settlements.
“The company is respecting human rights and principles and morality, which reject working with the illegal, immoral imperial system that Israel is perpetuating in occupied Palestinian land,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The PA Foreign Ministry said it further “calls on companies working, directly or indirectly, with the settlement system to take similar positions and immediately stop their dealings and business.”
The ice cream giant announced on Monday that it will no longer distribute its products in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It said the decision would take effect at the end of 2022, when its contract with the current Israeli manufacturer and distributor expires.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” Ben & Jerry’s said in its statement on Monday night.
The decision sparked a media firestorm in Israel, with prominent politicians issuing outraged responses.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told the head of Ben & Jerry’s parent company, Unilever CEO Alan Jope, that he takes a “very serious view of the decision by Ben & Jerry’s to boycott Israel,” and vowed a “vigorous” response, according to a Tuesday statement by Bennett’s office.
It was not immediately clear if the boycott also applied to East Jerusalem. Israel annexed East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy sites, and considers the whole city the undivided capital of the Jewish state. The Palestinians claim the eastern part as the capital of a future state, and the international community sees Israeli neighborhoods there as settlements, a designation Israel disputes.
Ben & Jerry’s current Israeli distributor condemned the ice cream company’s decision to drop its licensing agreement with them.
“The decision is entirely unacceptable. Ben & Jerry’s International decided not to renew their agreement with us in a year and a half, after we refused their demand to stop distribution throughout Israel,” it said. “We urge the Israeli government and consumers — don’t let them boycott Israel.”
“Keep ice cream out of politics,” it added.