Israeli prime minister warns of 'severe consequences' over Ben & Jerry's sales decision

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned the head of Unilever on Tuesday that there will be "severe consequences" to Ben & Jerry's decision to end sales in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in east Jerusalem, saying the country will "act aggressively" toward the company's decision.

"From Israel's standpoint, this action has severe consequences, legal and otherwise, and it will move aggressively against any boycott measure targeting civilians," the prime minister told Unilever Chief Executive Alan Jope, according to a press release from Bennett's office.

Bennett's statement follows ice cream company Ben & Jerry's decision not to renew its contract with British consumer goods giant Unilever in 2022, a decision that Bennett called "anti-Israeli."

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"We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," the ice cream company said in a statement released Monday.

Following the announcement, Bennett took to Twitter to hit back at the decision. 

"The boycott does not work and will not work and we will fight it with all our might," Bennett said. 

The territory in question consists of Israeli-occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, according to The Associated Press. The company added that it would continue to sell its ice cream in Israel through a different arrangement. 

Unilever said it would remain in Israel despite Ben & Jerry's decision.

"We remain fully committed to our presence in Israel, where we have invested in our people, brands and business for several decades," the company said in a statement.

The British company added that it understands Ben & Jerry's choice to end their contract but also "welcome the fact that Ben & Jerry’s will stay in Israel."