Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row

A refrigerator bearing the Ben & Jerry's logo is seen at a food store in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 20, 2021. (Reuters/File Photo)
A refrigerator bearing the Ben & Jerry's logo is seen at a food store in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 20, 2021. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 01 July 2022

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row

Unilever sells Ben & Jerry’s Israeli business to defuse BDS row
  • Ice cream brand said it does “not agree” with the deal made by the parent company

JERUSALEM: Unilever this week sold its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream business in Israel to its local licensee for an undisclosed sum, aiming to smooth over a potentially damaging diplomatic row over the company’s political stance.
The deal comes after the US ice cream brand announced last year it would stop marketing products in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, saying that selling there was “inconsistent” with its values. Under the new arrangement Ben & Jerry’s ice cream will be available to all consumers in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Ben & Jerry’s has said it does “not agree” with the deal made by the parent company.
The episode highlighted the challenges facing consumer brands taking a stand on Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians, such as San Francisco-based Airbnb, which in 2019 reversed its decision to delist Israeli settlements.
The international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement seeks to pressure Israel to abide by international law in its treatment of the Palestinians. Israel says such boycotts are discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
On Wednesday, Israel’s foreign ministry called the Ben & Jerry’s deal “a huge victory.”
“We will fight delegitimization and the BDS campaign in every arena, whether in the public square, in the economic sphere or in the moral realm,” Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said in a statement.
Last year, Israel condemned the sales boycott as “morally wrong” and said Unilever would face “severe consequences.” The consumer goods giant defended Ben & Jerry’s autonomy, but said it was “fully committed” to Israel and would find a solution by the end of this year.
Unilever had said previously it did not support the BDS movement, and reiterated that stance in a statement on Wednesday.
The new owner is the brand’s long-time Israeli ice cream licensee Avi Zinger, owner of American Quality Products. Zinger had sued Ben & Jerry’s after its decision in the West Bank, saying the company illegally severed their 34-year relationship.
“The new arrangement means Ben & Jerry’s will be sold under its Hebrew and Arabic names throughout Israel and the West Bank under the full ownership of its current licensee,” Unilever said.
A representative for the Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s said the company does not agree with Unilever’s announcement and will no longer profit from Ben & Jerry’s in Israel.
“We continue to believe it is inconsistent with Ben & Jerry’s values for our ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” the representative told Reuters.
Pension officials in at least six US states had restricted or sold Unilever stock or bonds to protest the Ben & Jerry’s decision, among them New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Texas State Comptroller Glenn Hegar, and Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee. Representatives for all three told Reuters on Wednesday they would review Unilever’s move.
Billionaire activist investor Nelson Peltz, who is joining the board of Unilever next month, was involved in the discussions to bring about the resolution, said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human rights organization that supported the deal. Peltz is the chairman of the center’s board of governors.
Peltz met with Unilever CEO Alan Jope in September before Trian Partners, the investment fund Peltz runs, bought any shares, to discuss the situation, a person familiar with the matter said.
Trian Partners commended the new arrangement in a statement, saying that “respect and tolerance have prevailed.”
Ben & Jerry’s and its independent board maintained the right to decide on its social mission when it was bought by Unilever in 2000. But Unilever said it “reserved primary responsibility for financial and operational decisions and therefore has the right to enter this arrangement.”
Israel captured the West Bank, part of the territory Palestinians want for an independent state, in a 1967 Middle East war. Most countries consider Israeli settlements on Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this.
“The return of Ben and Jerry’s to Israeli settlements, which were built on Palestinian land, exposes it to international legal accountability and its name will be on the United Nations blacklist of companies operating in settlements,” The Palestine Liberation Organization’s Wasel Abu Yussef told Reuters.
Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, said the deal sought to undermine the “principled decision” to stop selling the ice cream in Israeli settlements.
“What comes next may look and taste similar, but, without Ben & Jerry’s recognized social justice values, it’s just a pint of ice cream,” he said in a statement.
Ben & Jerry’s Jewish founders, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, no longer manage the brand but are well known for their commitment to social justice. The company has recently expressed strong support for the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ rights and electoral campaign finance reform.


Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh
Updated 56 min 18 sec ago

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh

Israeli security forces dismantle cell linked to Daesh
  • Israeli security said the individuals had “met to prepare attacks”

JERUSALEM: Israel’s internal security agency said Sunday it dismantled in the north of the country a cell linked to Daesh, whose alleged sympathizers staged deadly attacks earlier this year.
“Six residents of Nazareth were arrested several weeks ago and interrogated by the Shin Bet on suspicion of seeking to carry out terrorist activities on behalf of (Daesh) inside Israel,” the agency said in a statement.
It added that the individuals had “met to prepare attacks.”
The Shin Bet agency said the probe “highlights the influence of Daesh in Israel.”
In March, four people were killed when a convicted Daesh sympathizer went on a stabbing and car-ramming rampage in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba.
Days later, two policemen were shot dead and several others wounded in the northern Israeli city of Hadera, in an attack that was later claimed by the jihadist group.
The Beersheba and Hadera attacks renewed long-standing concern in Israel about Daesh efforts to recruit Arab citizens, who account for roughly a fifth of the Israeli population.


Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation
Updated 02 October 2022

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

Kuwait Crown Prince accepts cabinet resignation

DUBAI: A Kuwaiti Emiri decree accepted the government’s resignation, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported on Sunday. 

The Emir has asked the government to stay on in a caretaker capacity, the statement on KUNA added. 

Kuwait’s government submitted its resignation on Sunday, state news agency (KUNA) reported, following a parliamentary election in the country.

Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah received the government’s letter of resignation from Prime Minister Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf Al-Sabah, KUNA reported.


Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans
Updated 02 October 2022

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans

Iran says awaits unfreezing of $7 billion after releasing Americans
  • Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad
  • Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in several countries since US imposed sanctions

TEHRAN: Iran is awaiting the release of about $7 billion in funds frozen abroad, state media said Sunday, after it allowed an Iranian-American to leave the country and released his son from detention.
Baquer Namazi, 85, was permitted to leave Iran for medical treatment abroad, and his son Siamak, 50, was released from detention in Tehran, the United Nations said on Saturday.
“With the finalization of negotiations between Iran and the United States to release the prisoners of both countries, $7 billion of Iran’s blocked resources will be released,” the state news agency IRNA said.
Billions of dollars in Iranian funds have been frozen in a number of countries — notably China, South Korea and Japan — since the US reimposed biting sanctions on the Islamic republic in 2018 after unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Tehran has accused Seoul of holding $7 billion of its funds “hostage,” repeatedly calling on South Korean authorities to release it.
IRNA on Sunday said that “Washington is pursuing at the same time the release of its citizens detained in Tehran and the release of Iranian funds in South Korea.”
The development comes as on-off talks have been underway since April 2021 to revive the 2015 deal that gave Iran much-needed sanctions relief in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
Iran has repeatedly called for the lifting of sanctions, as well as guarantees that the United States will not again pull out of a revived deal.
Baquer Namazi is a former UNICEF official who was detained in February 2016 when he went to Iran to press for the release of his son Siamak, who had been arrested in October of the previous year.
Both were convicted of espionage in October 2016 and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The father was released on medical leave in 2018 and had been serving his sentence under house arrest.


Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds
Updated 02 October 2022

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds

Egypt’s population hits 104 million with a child born every 19 seconds
  • Egypt witnessed 4,525 newborns every day over seven months and 11 days
  • Egyptian authorities have intensified efforts to raise awareness on the risks of overpopulation

CAIRO: Egypt’s population has reached 104 million after an increase by one million people in 221 days, revealed the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
Over seven months and 11 days, the country recorded a newborn every 19 seconds, with the population increasing by 4,525 people per day. Meanwhile, 1,566 deaths were recorded.
Earlier in February, the domestic population reached 103 million with an increase of one million people over seven months and 22 days, recording an average of 1,858 deaths daily.

A previous study by CAPMAS ranked Egypt as the most populous country in the Arab world and the third in Africa after Nigeria and Ethiopia.

Egyptian authorities have intensified efforts to raise awareness, especially in rural areas, on the challenges that overpopulation pose on the economy and development.

In an earlier statement, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said population growth is one of the biggest threats facing the country, which has been reeling from major economic challenges.


Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 
Updated 02 October 2022

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Putin discusses bilateral relations with king of Bahrain 

Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone on Friday with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa discussing bilateral relations between their two countries, state news agency BNA reported. 

The two leaders discussed efforts to achieve lasting peace “that would guarantee the interests and national security of all countries”, the report said. 

The King and the Russian President underlined the importance of continued coordination and adherence to the OPEC+ Group’s decisions.

King Hamad emphasized the importance of activating channels of dialogue, negotiations and peaceful solutions to reach peace and development for all.