(*After a massive onslaught of zio media attacks yesterday), Orange CEO insists: Pulling out of Israel is business, not politics – Haaretz
French telecom operator Orange said on Thursday it planned to end its brand licensing deal with the Israeli firm Partner Communications, a day after comments by its chief executive drew criticism from the Israeli government.
“In line with its brand policy, Orange does not want to keep its brand presence in countries where it is not an operator. Within this framework, and while strictly respecting existing accords, Orange would like to put an end to this brand licencing,” it said in a statement.
The response came after Israel demanded Thursday that the French government clearly distance itself from the remarks made a day earlier by the CEO of Orange regarding the cellular company’s intention to sever relations with Israel’s Partner Communications.
Chief Executive Stephane Richard said in Cairo on Wednesday he wanted to end the agreement, even though there was a huge risk of financial penalties from doing so, and that the decision was in part due to the firm’s relations with Arab countries. Orange said his comments were taken out of context.
Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely sent a letter to Richard on Thursday asking him to clarify his position and to refrain from “being party to the industry of lies which unfairly targets Israel,” the letter sent to Reuters by the embassy read.
“The Orange Group has no operational presence in Israel. It has a brand license agreement with the operator Partner Communications,” the company clarified. “The Orange Group is not a shareholder of Partner and has no influence on the strategy or operational development of this company.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Thursday evening for the French government to publicly disavow Orange’s “wretched statement and wretched behavior” because it is partly owned by France.
“The absurd sight of a human-rights observing democracy of Israel protects itself from missiles and then suffers automatic condemnations and boycott attempts will not be forgiven,” Netanyahu said. “I call on our friends to loudly declare that they oppose any type of boycott on the state of the Jews without putting any conditions on this objection.”