Israeli company cuts ties with France’s Orange following BDS controversy

JERUSALEM (JTA) – An Israeli communications company will end its relationship with French telecommunications giant Orange next month, following a BDS controversy.

The severing of 17 years of ties comes eight months after Orange CEO Stephan Richard said at a news conference in Cairo that his company would abandon its Israeli affiliate Partner “tomorrow morning” if not for contractual penalties, raising questions about a company boycott of Israel.

Richard later said that he “sincerely” regretted the “controversy,” and that he was speaking “of a purely business issue.”

He came to Israel a week later to apologize in person to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying: “I regret deeply this controversy and I want to make it totally clear that Orange as a company has never supported and will never support any kind of boycott against Israel.”

French President François Hollande also reiterated his strong opposition to anti-Israel boycotts in the wake of the controversy. Orange is 25 per cent owned by the French government.

Partner will receive about $100,000 in compensation for Richard’s damaging statements and for agreeing to give up the Orange brand name. Partner said it would now work on rebranding.

Orange and Partner signed an agreement following Richard’s statements to part ways within 24 months. Partner had previously been expected to operate under the Orange name following a new 10-year agreement that was to expire in 2025.

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