Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis issued a warning Thursday to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream after the company announced it would not allow its products to be sold in the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem.
In a letter sent Thursday to Ben & Jerry’s CEO Matthew McCarthy, Patronis blasted the decision and defended Israel as the “most free, democratic and prosperous nation in the region.”
Citing a state law, Patronis vowed to prevent business contracts between Florida and municipal governments with Ben & Jerry’s if the decision isn’t reversed.
“Florida law prohibits the state from investing in companies that discriminate against Israel by refusing to deal with or terminate business activities in a discriminatory matter,” Patronis wrote. “Thus… it is my belief that Ben & Jerry’s brazen refusal to do business in Israel will result in your placement on the Scrutinized Companies that Boycott Israel List.”
Patronis’ letter comes after Ben & Jerry’s on Monday said it would stop selling ice cream to the West Bank and other contested areas in Jerusalem.
In its statement, Ben & Jerry’s said it had informed its longtime Israeli partner that it will not renew its license agreement when it expires at the end of 2022. While noting it would not serve Israeli-occupied areas, it said it would continue to provide ice cream in Israel “through a different arrangement.”
In the announcement, the company said sales to region were “inconsistent with our values.”
The statement was one of the strongest rebukes by a high-profile company of Israel’s settlement policies in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, which Israel has controlled for more than a half-century after capturing them in the 1967 Mideast war.
The Palestinians, with broad international support, claim both areas as part of a future independent state. Israeli settlements, now home to some 700,000 Israelis, are widely seen as illegal and obstacles to peace.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem after the 1967 war and considers the entire city its undivided capital, though the annexation is not internationally recognized. It says the West Bank is disputed territory and says its final status should be resolved in negotiations. The international community, however, widely considers both areas to be occupied territory.
Content from the Associated Press was used in this story.