JERUSALEM (AP) — French telecom giant Orange SA's declaration that it wants to cut business ties with Israel has given a boost to the burgeoning anti-Israel boycott movement while also drawing a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
Netanyahu responded angrily on Thursday, calling on "the French government to publicly repudiate the miserable statement and miserable action by a company that is under its partial ownership."
The remarks came a day after Orange's chief executive Stephane Richard said he would end his company's relationship with Partner Communications Ltd. "tomorrow" if he could, but that he was bound by a contract for the time being. He cited the company's sensitivity to Arab countries. Partner licenses the Orange brand name in Israel.
Richard's announcement caused uproar in Israel.
"The absurd drama in which the democracy that observes human rights — the state of Israel — and which defends itself from barrages of missiles and terrorist tunnels, and then absorbs automatic condemnations and attempted boycotts, this absurd drama will not be forgiven," Netanyahu also said.
Pro-Palestinian activists in France have been pushing for Orange to end the relationship over Partner's activities in Israeli settlements. The settlements, built on land the Palestinians want for a future state, are seen as illegitimate by the international community. more