Ben & Jerry’s has been carrying out business enterprise in Israel since 1987, but in latest decades it had arrive underneath pressure for providing in West Bank settlements, regarded as unlawful under international legislation. In July 2021, it declared it would cease marketing in the West Financial institution entirely.
That triggered a dispute with its longtime distributor in Israel, American Good quality Products (AQP), which sued Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever in March, arguing that they were being “unlawfully terminating its 34-yr business enterprise connection in get to boycott Israel.”
Unilever, a single of the world’s prime sellers of shopper merchandise which includes Dove cleaning soap and Magnum ice product, tried using to attract a line below the controversy with its announcement final 7 days that it had marketed Ben & Jerry’s Israeli small business for an undisclosed amount of money to AQP.
The retail large mentioned that likely ahead, Ben & Jerry’s would be bought under its Hebrew and Arabic names during Israel and the West Financial institution.
But that conclusion to market to AQP took the board of Ben & Jerry’s by shock, according to its court docket submitting, which stated that its chair had been “surprised” to listen to the news.
Considering that 2021, Ben & Jerry’s has been fiercely opposed to the sale of its products and solutions in the West Financial institution, saying that it would be “inconsistent with” the brand name.
In its grievance Tuesday, it famous that its brand values are lawfully overseen by an impartial board of administrators underneath a 2000 settlement with Unilever.
The board made the decision to go after lawful motion past week at a assembly in which five administrators voted to authorize litigation, and two appointees from Unilever dissented, Ben & Jerry’s claimed.
But it maintained that the dad or mum firm “reserved primary duty for monetary and operational selections, and thus has the right to enter this arrangement.”
In a new statement Wednesday, a Unilever spokesperson reiterated that it “experienced the correct to enter this arrangement.”
“The deal has previously closed,” the representative claimed, adding that it would not remark on pending litigation.
In its statement very last week, Unilever explained that it had conducted a assessment of its organization there “more than a number of months, which includes with the Israeli governing administration.”
“Unilever has made use of the prospect of the past yr to hear to views on this advanced and delicate matter and thinks this is the most effective end result for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel,” it included.
— Jordan Valinsky contributed to this report.