US pension funds are threatening to sell their stakes in Unilever because its Ben & Jerry’s brand has stopped selling ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories.
The brand said this summer that it would scrap its licence in the West Bank, which Israel has held since 1967.
“We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the occupied Palestinian territory,” it said.
New Jersey’s $92.7 billion pension fund, which has a $182 million interest in Unilever, warned chief executive Alan Jope that it will take action against the company.
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According to The Times, states including Illinois, Florida and Texas are also evaluating their stakes in Unilever.
Florida’s board said the group would be added to a list of “scrutinised companies that boycott Israel” that bans state investments.
The state claimed it had not received “any meaningful response from Unilever”.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis said in August: “I will not stand idly by as woke corporate ideologues seek to boycott and divest from our ally, Israel.”
Arizona officials said this month that it would divest state funds worth $143 million in the Anglo-Dutch giant.
State treasurer Kimberley Yee had called on Unilever to reverse Ben & Jerry’s decision or divest the brand.
“The companies are in violation of the law in Arizona,” she said.
“Arizona will not do business with companies that are attempting to undermine Israel’s economy.”
Jope said that the Ben & Jerry’s withdrawal had been a decision by the brand’s “independent board”.
In July, he said he wanted to “double underscore” Unilever’s underlying business commitment to Israel.
“We expect to do many more years of business in Israel,” he said, noting the company has four factories and 2,000 staff in the country, plus a head office near Tel Aviv.
Israeli prime minister Naftali Bennett has warned that Ben & Jerry’s would face “severe consequences” for its boycott.