Ben & Jerry's Sues Parent Company to Stop Israel Deal

Company still doesn't want its ice cream sold in Israeli-occupied territories
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 6, 2022 1:31 AM CDT
Ben & Jerry's Sues Parent Company to Stop Israel Deal
Israelis visit the Ben & Jerry's ice-cream factory in the Be'er Tuvia Industrial area, July 20, 2021. U   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Ben & Jerry's announced plans to stop selling its ice cream in the West Bank and east Jerusalem nearly a year ago, a move that did not go over well with Israel. On June 29, the ice cream maker's parent company, Unilever, announced it would sell the Ben & Jerry's brand and trademark rights in Israel to a local licensee so that Ben & Jerry's products could continue to be sold there. On Tuesday, Ben & Jerry's sued Unilever to prevent the move, the Guardian reports.

The ice cream maker argues the sale to Israeli businessman Avi Zinger, the owner of Ben & Jerry’s Israel, violates its 2000 merger agreement with Unilever, the Washington Post reports. It also says Unilever made the decision without the agreement of the independent board of Ben & Jerry's, CNBC reports. "Ben & Jerry’s founders insisted on the inclusion of explicit language to ensure the brand’s integrity was not diluted," the company says in its court filing. It argues that the sale of its products in Israeli-occupied areas would hurt the company's "core values," and that an injunction is necessary to "protect the brand and social integrity Ben & Jerry’s has spent decades building."

One of Zinger's representatives, meanwhile, tells the Times of Israel, "It’s a done deal. Unilever chose the morally correct, socially just, and principled path when it ensured that Ben & Jerry’s ice cream would always continue to be produced and sold in Israel and the West Bank." A judge denied Ben & Jerry's a temporary restraining order, but gave Unilever until July 14 to show cause for why a preliminary injunction should not be issued. (Read more Ben and Jerry's stories.)

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