Orange CEO planning to terminate contract with Israeli brand partner

In BDS movement’s next victory, CEO of Orange states he would pull Orange out of Israel “tomorrow if possible”; Israeli company “Partner” responds, as well as owner Haim Saban; 400 “Partner” employees protest

Israeli employees of "Partner" place Israel flag over Orange logo in demonstration (Edo Erez)

Israeli employees of “Partner” place Israel flag over Orange logo in demonstration (Edo Erez)

French CEO of Orange, Stephane Richard stated on Wednesday that his company intends to withdraw the Orange brand from Israel “tomorrow if possible”, as yet another major company from Europe joins the boycott movements against the State of Israel facilitated and fuelled by the BDS Movement.

The news come just as those of the UK’s National Union of Students, who through the BDS Movement passed the Motion 518 “ Justice in Palestine” 19-12, officially boycotting the State of Israel Tuesday.

Richard has been under pressure from European and Palestinian NGO’s who are calling on France’s government as well to cut ties with Israel, as the government holds a quarter stake in the company.

Speaking in Cairo of future plans for expansion of Orange in Egypt as well as further cooperation and business with Arab partners, Richard stated, “I am ready to abandon this tomorrow morning but the point is that I want to secure the legal risk for the company. I want to terminate this, once again, but I don’t want to expose Orange to a level of risk and of penalties that could be really sizeable for the company. I know that it is a sensitive issue here in Egypt, but not only in Egypt … We want to be one of the trustful partners of all Arab countries.”

He stated the decision is not in “the interest for us is certainly not a financial interest… If you take those amounts on one side and on the other side the time that we spend to explain this, to try to find a solution and the consequences that we have to manage here but also in France, believe me it’s a very bad deal.”

Israel’s mobile Company “Partner” operates under Orange’s brand name, and responded to Richard stating, “We wish to highlight that Partner Communications is an Israeli company owned by Saban Capital Group, which is owned by Haim Saban, and not by France Telecom (Orange). The company is holding the Orange brand name since 1998, and the only connection between us and France Telecom is the brand name.”

Haim Saban, an Israeli Egyptian-born billionaire and owner of Partner, also responded to the BDS movement, stating, “I am proud to be to controlling shareholder of the Partner company, which is an Israeli owned company, which operates under the Orange brand name. I won’t be deterred by threats. I will continue to operate in Israel and lead the international struggle for Israel.”

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely responded to Richard on his comments and media reports, writing a letter in which she states, “I call on you to refrain from taking part in the industry of lies directed against Israel, I am sure that these reports do not reflect the intentions of your company, and call on you to clarify the issue as soon as possible.”

Over 400 “Partner” employees demonstrated against CEO Stephane Richard, placing an Israeli flag over the Orange logo Thursday afternoon.

Demonstration Thursday afternoon (Elona Gefen)

Demonstration Thursday afternoon (Elona Gefen)

To understand more about what the BDS movement is, read our most recent blog: http://beholdisrael.org/news-israel/articles/what-bds-movement