French giant Orange to cut ties with Israel

French telecom giant operator Orange Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard has issued a statement to reporters in Cairo that his company has decided to to distance itself from its role in Israel’s rule over the Palestinian territories.

Orange, which has an affiliate agreement with the Israeli firm Partner, is one of Israel’s largest cellular service providers.

Human rights organizations in France have been pressuring Orange to cancel its operations in Israel in protest of Jerusalem’s policies in the West Bank.

“Believe me I would cancel the contract tomorrow if I could,” Richard said. His comments were reported by the Daily News Egypt.

Richard said Orange’s contracts’ use of language with its Israeli operator prevents it from pulling out.

“We didn’t renew the contract, we wanted to change the terms of the contract and include a termination date, as there previously wasn’t a termination date, and gave us no possibility of leaving the deal,” he said.

“We want to terminate this and to fix this, we don’t want it,” he said. “In the existing contract, it gives us the option to terminate this without exposing this to a huge financial risk. If you were the CEO of this company you would act the same.” 

The executive said that the company is in a legally disadvantageous position when it comes to Israeli law.

“The only other possibility would be to enter a dispute with the partner, and I’m sorry to say but entering a dispute when you have zero legal grounds in Israeli courts is not something I would recommend for my company,” Richard said. “I am not willing to pay hundreds of millions of euros just because I have to take a risk in terms of penalties.”

Orange hassponsored unit combats during the war on Gaza in 2014 and is helping the Israeli forces expand their settlement activities in the West Bank, according to Palestinian news agency Ma’an.

Source: World Bulletin

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