Israel's prime minister has warned Ben & Jerry's that there will be "serious consequences, legal and otherwise" for its decision to ban sales of its ice cream in what the company calls "Occupied Palestinian Territory." Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that Israel "will act aggressively against all boycott actions directed against its citizens," the AP reports. Bennett said he had spoken to Unilever CEO Alan Jope about the move, though Unilever, which acquired Ben & Jerry's in 2000, said in a statement that the decision had been made by the ice cream maker's independent board, reports the BBC. Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the US, said he had written to the governors of 35 states that have passed laws against anti-Israel boycotts.
Anuradha Mittal, chair of the Ben & Jerry's board, says the board has been pushing for an end to sales in the West Bank and east Jerusalem for years, NBC reports. Mittal says the board did not approve a company statement Monday that promised sales in Israel itself would continue. Ben & Jerry's, which had been under pressure from pro-Palestinian activists, plans to end its contract with its Israeli franchise next year. Franchise owner Avi Zinger tells the Jerusalem Post that he has long resisted pressure from the company to end sales in Israeli settlements. He says the government of Israel "cannot afford for" the boycott to happen and he hopes the company will change course. "When you mix politics with ice cream, you do not know where it will stop," he says. (Read more Ben & Jerry's stories.)