(Reuters) – Ben & Jerry’s founders said on MSNBC Sunday that parent company Unilever (NYSE:) PLC is in violation of the 2000 merger deal by selling Ben & Jerry’s business in Israel to a local licensee selling their products in the West Bank.
“This agreement gave authority over the social mission to Ben & Jerry’s independent board of directors. Unilever has taken over its power and reversed the decision that was made and we can’t let that happen, we can’t sit idly by,” Ben Cohen said in a TV interview.
Partner Jerry Greenfield said the agreement is legally binding and must be adhered to.
By contrast, Unilever said it reserved the right to make operating decisions for Ben & Jerry’s, and that the sale could not be reversed because it was permanently closed.
Ben & Jerry’s said earlier this month that it plans to amend its lawsuit against Unilever for the sale of Israeli business in federal court in Manhattan. Unilever must respond by November 1.
In July 2021, the Burlington, Vermont company decided to end sales in the OPT, calling them “incompatible” with progressive values and a social mission that it reserves the right to promote.
The decision sparked a backlash against Unilever, including divestments by pension funds from the consumer goods company and accusations of anti-Semitism by some Jewish groups.