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Texas Considers Divesting from Ben & Jerry’s, Unilver Following Israel Boycott

Texas’s comptroller ordered his office on Thursday to determine whether Ben & Jerry’s decision to cease the sale of its products in West Bank settlements is a violation of the state’s anti-BDS laws, which would require sanctioning the ice cream giant.

“If it is determined that Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever has engaged in any activities proscribed under Chapter 808 of the Texas Government Code, my office will take all appropriate and required actions consistent with our policies and procedures,” Glenn Hegar said in a statement.

In its decision, which is set to take effect at the end of 2022, Ben & Jerry’s said it would be “inconsistent with our values” to continue sales in “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” differentiating between the settlements it intends to boycott and Israel proper, where it hopes to continue its sales.

But the comptroller noted that Texas law against boycotting Israel makes no such differentiation, defining the practice as “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or an Israeli-controlled territory.”

The quoted legislation, against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, passed in 2017 and requires Texas to divest pension funds from companies that boycott Israel or the settlements.

Ben & Jerry’s parent company Unilever is included in the investment portfolio that amounts to $100 million in pensions funds, according to data from Bloomberg.

This appears to line Unilever up for divestment as a result of the Ben & Jerry’s decision, though Uniliver has distanced itself from the decision of its subsidiary.

Texas anti-BDS legislation also requires the blacklisting of Israel boycotting companies from larger contracts with the state, and Hegar said his office would examine whether it has any contracts with Ben & Jerry’s or Unilever that would have to be voided.

Source:https://www.timesofisrael.com/texas-considers-divesting-from-ben-jerrys-following-settlement-boycott/