Orange will never support a boycott against Israel

June 14, 2015 Agencies
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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former president Shimon Peres have met with Orange Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard in Jerusalem following the French company’s reversal of its decision to break off its relations with Israel. 

Netanyahu told Richard: “It’s no secret that the remarks you made last week were widely seen as an attack on Israel and so your visit here is an opportunity to set the record straight. Israel is the one country in the Middle East that guarantees full civic rights. It’s the one county in the Middle East where everyone is protected under the law equally. We seek a genuine and secure peace with our Palestinian neighbours, but that can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions. It will not be achieved through boycotts and through threats of boycotts.

President Peres condemned every and any manner of boycott against Israel.

Shimon Peres talks with Stephane Richard

Shimon Peres talks with Stephane Richard

He told Stephane Richard: “Your visit to Israel is highly significant. It must be made clear that you are opposed to the BDS movement and that you support Israel. Boycotts burn the bridges of peace formed instead of bringing people together and promoting tolerance.

It is therefore of the highest importance that your company clarifies that it is against the boycott. I am delighted that Orange is expanding its activities and investments in Israel. Israel has become a Start-Up Nation and it is our hope that our entire region will advance along with our technological progress. We are developing advanced technologies and are encouraging our neighbors to take part in them.

Together, we must fight against terror and boycotts and instead promote peace and progress. It must be understood that the BDS movement damages the efforts for peace and tolerance. Your deceleration against boycotts is clear and I am happy to know that this is your position.”

Stephane Richard and Benyamin Netanyahu   Photo: Haim Zach/GPO

Stephane Richard and Benjamin Netanyahu Photo: Haim Zach/GPO

Stéphane Richard replied: “Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your invitation. It’s an honor to meet with you this morning and it give me also an opportunity to clear up the confusion that was created after those statements.

I regret deeply this controversy and I want to make totally clear that Orange as a company has never supported and will never support any kind of boycott against Israel. We are doing business, we are doing communication, we are here to connect people, certainly not to participate in any kind of boycott. Israel is a fantastic place to be in the digital industry and of course our will is to strengthen and to keep on investing here.”

Thank you President Peres for your warm welcome. It is an honor to meet with you. I am among the very many people who admire the work you are continuing to do to bring peace to the region and to the world. You have recognized the importance of international communications as a key to peace.

International business investment also can help bring peace to the world. It is part of what we do at Orange every day in our industry that connects people across borders.

Partly because of that, and partly because of our values, we at Orange are totally opposed to any boycott of Israel.

So I am here to clear up any confusion created over statements I made that were distorted and misunderstood about our activities in Israel.

President Peres, you were the person who began the quest for Israel to become a start-up nation. You encouraged Orange to develop in Israel. Orange has been in Israel for the past 20 years and since I have taken the leadership position in 2010, we have continually strengthened our presence here. Israel offers an outstanding digital ecosystem and we are extremely happy to be in this country. For companies in our business, Israel is one of the key places to be.

Regarding our brand strategy, I want to be very clear on  our position regarding Partner Communications, the telecom operator here which operates under the Orange brand. As in all other countries, we have been in negotiations with Partner to recover the use of the Orange brand and so be able to develop with one global strategy. That is at the heart of the questions that have been misunderstood regarding our activities in Israel.

Orange’s vision is to connect people. That is the opposite of any involvement in boycott or in political controversy. Our actions are not based on any political objectives but rather on economic and business objectives. It is therefore ludicrous to think that our business development plans in Israel are in way the result of political pressure of any sort.

 

We will stay focused on business and commercial strategy here in Israel and everywhere else, because that will bring the development that will benefit all of our stakeholders. They include our employees, our customers, our suppliers, our stockholders and the societies in which we do business. We are proud to have all of those stakeholders in Israel and we will continue to develop further our activities here with them.

 

 

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