(Image: Ben and Jerry's)

Israel is vowing to wage a broad legal battle against Ben & Jerry’s after the US ice cream company announced it would no longer sell its popular desserts in Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to protest Israel’s ongoing military rule over the Palestinians.

Although the partial boycott by Ben & Jerry’s is not expected to harm Israel economically, the company’s decision and Israel’s countermoves are resurfacing thorny questions about the West Bank, which Israel has controlled for decades but never officially annexed. Millions of Palestinians live in the territory with few of the rights accorded to their settler neighbours.

On Monday, the Vermont-based ice cream empire declared it would halt sales in the “Occupied Palestinian Territory” as it was “inconsistent with our values”.