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Unilever says lawsuit with Ben & Jerry's to stop sale of Israel business is 'resolved'

December 16, 2022 at 5:12 pm

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Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s, announced yesterday that it had resolved a lawsuit with the US ice cream maker over the sale of its business in Israel, reported the Times of Israel.

“I am pleased that the litigation between Unilever and the independent board of Ben & Jerry’s has been resolved,” local licensee Avi Zinger said in a statement.

It comes after Ben & Jerry’s said it plans to amend its lawsuit challenging the sale of its ice cream business in Israel by Unilever.

In a letter filed in September in federal court in Manhattan, Ben & Jerry’s said it plans to file an amended complaint by 27 September, with Unilever’s response due by 1 November.

Ben & Jerry’s had sued Unilever on 5 July, saying the sale of the Israeli business to Zinger breached Unilever’s 2000 agreement to buy the Burlington, Vermont-based company because it would allow ice cream sales in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

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In July 2021, Ben & Jerry’s decided to end sales in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, calling it “inconsistent” with the progressive values and social mission it retained the right to promote. That decision prompted a backlash against Unilever, including divestments by pension funds from the consumer goods company and accusations of anti-Semitism by some Jewish groups.

On 22 August, US District Judge Andrew Carter in Manhattan said Ben & Jerry’s did not deserve an injunction against the sale to Zinger because it failed to show it would suffer irreparable harm. The judge did not decide the lawsuit’s merits.

Unilever has said Ben & Jerry’s had no power to stop or undo the sale, which has already closed.

“There is no change to the agreement I made with Unilever earlier in the year. I look forward to continuing to produce and sell the great tasting Ben & Jerry’s ice cream under the Hebrew and Arabic trademarks throughout Israel and the West Bank long into the future,” Avi Zinger added in his statement yesterday.

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