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Ron DeSantis warns Florida may divest from Unilever over Ben & Jerry's West Bank boycott

i24NEWS

clock 3 min read

An Israeli flag is set atop a delivery truck outside US ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry's factory in Be'er Tuvia, Israel on July 21, 2021.
EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFPAn Israeli flag is set atop a delivery truck outside US ice-cream maker Ben & Jerry's factory in Be'er Tuvia, Israel on July 21, 2021.

Republican governor said ice cream maker's parent company has 90 days to reverse its position

The fallout from Ben & Jerry's recent decision to stop permitting the sale of its ice cream products in the disputed West Bank continued Tuesday, as Florida threatened not to put any money into parent company Unilever unless it reversed its decision.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said the State Board of Administration added London-based Unilever to its list of “scrutinized companies” that boycott Israel, reported the Associated Press (AP). DeSantis' action means that Ben & Jerry's has 90 days to reverse its position on Israel, otherwise the state will not invest in or contract with Unilever or its subsidiaries.

As a matter of law and principle, the state of Florida will not tolerate discrimination against the state of Israel or the Israeli people,” the Republican governor said in a news release. “I will not stand idly by as woke corporate ideologues seek to boycott and divest from our ally, Israel.”

At least 35 US states have anti-Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) statutes on their books and several of them have threatened similar action against either Ben & Jerry's and/ or parent company Unilever. 

Last week the conglomerate's CEO Alan Jope maintained that the company was fully committed to "doing business with Israel" despite Ben & Jerry's decision. 

Meanwhile, in a recent call between Florida officials and Ben & Jerry's, the Vermont-based company said it had no intention of reversing its approach.

Israel's leaders have taken a militant stance against the proposed boycott; new President Isaac Herzog likened BDS to a new form of terrorism; Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned of "severe consequences" and Foreign Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid called the move a "disgraceful capitulation to antisemitism." 

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