Unilever expects new Ben & Jerry’s ‘arrangement’ for Israel by year-end

Unilever expects new Ben & Jerry’s ‘arrangement’ for Israel by year-end
A Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream delivery truck is seen at their factory in Be’er Tuvia, Israel in July 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 February 2022

Unilever expects new Ben & Jerry’s ‘arrangement’ for Israel by year-end

Unilever expects new Ben & Jerry’s ‘arrangement’ for Israel by year-end
  • "Our absolute focus right now is to figure out what the new arrangement will be for Ben & Jerry's," CEO Alan Jope said
  • His comments were the most specific he has given about the actions of the ice cream brand

LONDON/BOSTON: The board of Ben & Jerry’s aims to work out a “new arrangement” for sales in Israel before the end of the year, Unilever PLC’s CEO said on Thursday.
This comes after the US-based independent ice cream brand last year committed to halting sales in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.
“Our absolute focus right now is to figure out what the new arrangement will be for Ben & Jerry’s,” CEO Alan Jope said on a conference call with journalists after the company announced earnings.
Jope’s comments were the most specific he has given about the actions of the ice cream brand, based in the state of Vermont.
Ben & Jerry’s said in July that it would halt sales in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, a protest against Israeli settlements that has sparked some backlash including divestments by US pension funds.
Jope did not directly criticize the sales limit but said, “On subjects where Unilever brands don’t have the expertise or credibility, we think its best that they stay out of the debate.”
“Ben & Jerry’s is a great brand — most of the time they get it right — they have a great track record of campaigning on important issues that are relevant to their consumers,” Jope added.
Investors are watching the ice cream controversy as a test of Jope’s ability to balance his emphasis on marketing tied to social issues with financial results.
Speaking before Jope’s remarks, Kevin Dreyer, a portfolio manager at Gabelli Funds, whose parent GAMCO owns about 225,000 Unilever shares, said that while many Unilever consumers like its green-labeled products, some political activism by Unilever’s brands could alienate some consumers.
Jope has previously said Ben & Jerry’s board acted independently and that Unilever does not support efforts to isolate Israeli, where it employs nearly 2,000 people. Ben & Jerry’s had said it would continue to sell ice cream in Israel “through a different arrangement.”
Ben & Jerry’s accounts for about 3 percent of the world’s ice cream market. The brand’s sales grew 9 percent last year, Unilever said, outpacing overall underlying sales growth of 4.5 percent. The company did not give further details on sales.
“I definitely would not make a connection between those (Ben & Jerry’s) statements and its sales growth,” Jope said on the call.
“The growth that we’re seeing on Ben & Jerry’s is driven much more by their innovation program,” Jope added.


US says ‘concerned’ by Israeli closure of Palestinian NGOs

US says ‘concerned’ by Israeli closure of Palestinian NGOs
Updated 58 min ago

US says ‘concerned’ by Israeli closure of Palestinian NGOs

US says ‘concerned’ by Israeli closure of Palestinian NGOs
  • Six of the Palestinian organizations were labeled last October as terrorist organizations by Israel
  • The NGOs have all denied any links to the PFLP, which many western nations have designated a terrorist group

WASHINGTON: Washington said Thursday it was “concerned” by the Israeli government’s forced closure of several Palestinian NGOs operating in the occupied West Bank.
The Israeli military announced earlier in the day that it had conducted overnight raids of seven organizations in Ramallah, the West Bank city where the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters are located.
Six of the Palestinian organizations were labeled last October as terrorist organizations by Israel for their alleged links to the leftist militant group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), though Israeli officials have not publicly shared any evidence of the links.
The NGOs have all denied any links to the PFLP, which many western nations have designated a terrorist group.
“We are concerned about the Israeli security forces’ closure of the six offices of the Palestinian NGOs in and around Ramallah today,” said US State Department spokesman Ned Price at a press briefing.
“We have not changed our position or approach to these organizations,” said Price, though he noted that Washington does not fund any of them.
“We have seen nothing in recent months to change (our position)” he added.
US officials have reached out to their Israeli counterparts “at the senior level” to obtain additional information, which Israel has promised to provide, according to Price.
The seventh organization raided by Israel on Thursday, the Union of Health Work Committees, was banned by Israel from working in the West Bank in 2020.


Israel announces plan to boost Gaza work permits

Israel announces plan to boost Gaza work permits
Updated 19 August 2022

Israel announces plan to boost Gaza work permits

Israel announces plan to boost Gaza work permits
  • A further 1,500 people from the impoverished and overcrowded Gaza Strip would be allowed to work in Israel from Sunday

JERUSALEM: Israel said Friday it plans to grant more work permits to Palestinians in blockaded Gaza, reviving a pledge made ahead of a visit by US President Joe Biden but later scrapped.
A further 1,500 people from the impoverished and overcrowded Gaza Strip would be allowed to work in Israel from Sunday, the military said in a statement.
“The decision will take effect ... on condition that the security situation remains quiet in the area,” said COGAT, the Israeli defense ministry body responsible for civil affairs in the Palestinian territories.
The move to boost to 15,500 the total number of work permits was initially announced on July 12, on the eve of Biden’s visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
But it was scrapped four days later, in the wake of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and retaliatory strikes by Israeli warplanes.
The work permits provide vital income to some of Gaza’s 2.3 million people, who have been living under a strict blockade imposed by Israel since the Islamist movement Hamas seized power in 2007.
Friday’s announcement follows three days of fighting this month between Islamic Jihad militants and Israel.
At least 49 Gazans were killed and hundreds wounded, according to figures from the enclave’s health ministry.
The plan to issue additional permits follows a decision by Hamas largely to stay out of the recent fighting.


Market blast in north Syria kills at least 13, injures dozens

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 13, injures dozens
Updated 19 August 2022

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 13, injures dozens

Market blast in north Syria kills at least 13, injures dozens
  • The attack on the town of Al-Bab came days after a Turkish airstrike killed at least 11 Syrian troops and US-backed Kurdish fighters

BEIRUT: A rocket attack on a crowded market in a town held by Turkey-backed opposition fighters in northern Syria Friday killed at least nine people and wounded dozens, an opposition war monitor and a paramedic group reported.
The attack on the town of Al-Bab came days after a Turkish airstrike killed at least 11 Syrian troops and US-backed Kurdish fighters. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitor, blamed Syrian government forces for the shelling, saying it was in retaliation for the Turkish airstrike.
The Observatory said the attack killed at least 13 and wounded more than 30.
The opposition’s Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, had a lower death toll, saying nine people, including children, were killed and 28 were wounded. The paramedic group said its members evacuated some of the wounded and the dead bodies.
Discrepancies in casualty figures immediately after attacks are not uncommon in Syria.
Turkey has launched three major cross-border operations into Syria since 2016 and controls some territories in the north.
Although the fighting has waned over the past few years, shelling and airstrikes are not uncommon in northern Syria that is home to the last major rebel stronghold in the country.
Syria’s conflict that began in March 2011, has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced half the country’s pre-war population of 23 million.
President Bashar Assad’s forces now control most parts of Syria with the help of their allies, Russia and Iran.


Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry
Updated 19 August 2022

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry

Palestinian killed in Israeli West Bank raid: Palestinian ministry
  • Israeli military say soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town
  • Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories Presse: A Palestinian man was killed Friday by Israeli forces during a raid in the north of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Salah Sawafta, 58, “died of critical wounds, sustained by live bullets from the occupation (Israeli military) in the head, in Tubas this morning,” a ministry statement said.
The Israeli military said soldiers came under fire during a raid in the town.
During an operation in “Tubas, several suspects hurled Molotov cocktails and opened fire at (Israeli) troops, who responded with fire,” the army said in a statement, adding “hits were identified.”
The mayor of Tubas, Hossam Daraghmeh, said Sawafta had been leaving dawn prayers when he was shot.
“He left the mosque and was heading to his house wearing a prayer robe. There was a vengeful soldier stationed in a building near the municipality who shot him in the head,” he said.
Daraghmeh said Sawafta had been unarmed when he was hit.
“This man did not have a stone or anything in his hand,” he said.
The Israeli military said five people were detained in overnight raids across the West Bank.
On Thursday, a 20-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli troops during clashes in the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967, when it seized the territory from Jordan.


Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense
Updated 19 August 2022

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense

Algeria wildfires ‘all under control’: civil defense
  • Since the beginning of August, almost 150 blazes have destroyed hundreds of hectares (acres) of forest in Africa’s largest country

Algiers: Wildfires, which killed at least 38 people and left a trail of destruction in eastern Algeria this week, are now under control, a civil defense official told AFP on Friday.
“All of the fires have been completely brought under control,” said fire brigade Col. Farouk Achour, of the civil defense department.
Since the beginning of August, almost 150 blazes have destroyed hundreds of hectares (acres) of forest in Africa’s largest country.
Deadly fires have become an annual scourge in Algeria, where climate change has turned large areas of forest into a tinderbox in the blistering summer months.
The justice ministry launched an inquiry after Interior Minister Kamel Beldjoud suggested some of the fires were started deliberately, and authorities on Thursday announced four arrests of suspected arsonists.
Authorities have been accused of being ill-prepared, with few firefighting aircraft available despite record casualties in last year’s blazes and a cash windfall from gas exports with global energy prices soaring.