New York pension fund joins Unilever exit following Israeli restrictions

A refrigerator bearing the Ben & Jerry’s logo is seen in a grocery store in the Jewish settlement of Efrat in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on July 20, 2021. REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun

October 28 (Reuters) – The $ 268 billion New York state pension fund became the last Thursday to restrict its holdings in Unilever Plc (ULVR.L) in response to the selling limits imposed by the brand. The company’s Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the Israeli-occupied area. Palestinian territories.

In a statement sent by a spokesperson, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said a review found the company and its subsidiary “were engaged in BDS activities,” referring to the move. “Boycott Divestment Sanctions” which seeks to isolate Israel on its treatment of Palestinians. .

The New York State Pension Pool has total Unilever capital of $ 111 million, the spokesperson said. The fund is the third largest US public pension fund.

Pension officials in other states, including New Jersey, Arizona and Florida, have also decided to sell Unilever shares or restrict the purchase of new shares for similar reasons. Read more

Unilever representatives did not immediately comment.

Ben & Jerry’s decided in July to end a license for its ice cream to be sold in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying sales there were “inconsistent with its values.” Most countries consider Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal. Israel disputes this. Read more

Some American Jewish groups such as liberal-leaning J Street have also voiced concerns about Israeli settlements and opposed calls for action against Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever.

Unilever had said the decision was made by the independent board of directors of Ben & Jerry’s social mission, and said he did not support the BDS movement. Read more

In a letter to DiNapoli’s office in August, Unilever CEO Alan Jope said Unilever was committed to doing business in Israel, where it employs nearly 2,000 people, and said the Ben brand & Jerry’s would remain in Israel.

“We have warmly welcomed this decision to stay in Israel and have sought to deal with this matter in the most respectful and sensitive manner possible,” Jope wrote.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Gerry Doyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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