Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid hailed Unilever's decision to sell its Ben & Jerry's business interests in Israel as a "victory," as the new arrangement allows the ice cream products to be sold throughout Israel and the West Bank.
Last year, Ben & Jerry's announced that they would no longer sell their products in the West Bank, which it referred to as "Occupied Palestinian Territory." That policy is now scrapped, now that parent company Unilever is no longer involved in the Israeli market after selling the interests to American Quality Products Ltd, which had been the Israeli licensee for Ben & Jerry's.
"The Ben & Jerry's factory in Israel is a microcosm of the diversity of Israeli society," Lapid tweeted Wednesday. "Today’s victory is a victory for all those who know that the struggle against BDS is, first and foremost, a struggle for partnership and dialogue, and against discrimination and hate."
The initial decision to end sales in the West Bank was met with sharp criticism from Israeli and American officials alike.
"Now we Israelis know which ice cream NOT to buy," former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the time.
Unilever has insisted that they have never supported BDS, the anti-Israel Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign that seeks to isolate Israel in order to pressure the Jewish state into changing its policies regarding Palestinians. The BDS movement had celebrated last year's decision to stop selling the ice cream in the West Bank, which includes Jewish settlements and Palestinian territories.
"Unilever rejects completely and repudiates unequivocally any form of discrimination or intolerance. Antisemitism has no place in any society," the company said in a press release Wednesday."
The statement continued: "We have never expressed any support for the Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement and have no intention of changing that position."
Despite being owned by Unilever, Ben & Jerry's was able to make the decision to stop selling in the West Bank because its arrangement with the parent company allows it to maintain control over its social mission and policies through an independent board. According to Wednesday's press release, Unilever controlled Ben & Jerry's financial and operational decisions, which allowed it to sell the interests.
Under the new arrangement, the ice cream will be sold in Israel and the West Bank under both Hebrew and Arabic names.