World Bulletin / News Desk
Orange has no plans to quit Israel, its chief executive officer said on Saturday, following a row this week over its plan to end a licensing deal there.
Israel protested to France after CEO Stephane Richard said the 25 percent state-owned telecoms group planned to terminate an arrangement with Israel's Partner Communications, drawing accusations Orange was bending to a pro-Palestinian boycott movement.
"Orange does not support any form of boycott, in Israel or anywhere else in the world," Richard said in comments emailed to news agency Agence France Presse and confirmed by an Orange spokesman.
"Our decision on the use of the brand is motivated - as it is all over the world - solely by our brand strategy. Let me make it very clear that the Orange Group is in Israel to stay."
Richard had been quoted by media reports as saying at a news conference in Cairo on Wednesday that he was willing to withdraw the Orange brand from Israel "tomorrow morning" but moving too quickly would expose his company to legal risks and possible financial penalties.
A spokesman for Orange said there had been a "huge misunderstanding", and that Richard had been referring to a business decision relating to Partner and not to an exit from the country.
Orange said that in line with its licensing policy, it does not want to keep its brand presence in countries where it is not an operator. Partner said the only link between it and Orange was the brand, used by the Israeli company since 1998.
Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzippi Hotovely voiced concern this week at "the possibility of a future withdrawal of the Orange brand from Israel", while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded Francepublicly renounce what he called "the distressing statement and action" taken by Orange.
France's Foreign Ministry responded that Paris was opposed to any boycott of the Jewish state but stressed Orange was free to define its own policy.
France issued a warning to French investors a year ago that investments in Israeli settlement areas carried legal risks, a move which raised concerns in Israel.
French human rights groups have asked the government to encourage Orange to pull out of its relationship with its partner.
Israel has said the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, sponsored by pro-Palestinianintellectuals and bloggers, is motivated by anti-Semitism and a desire to paint Israel as illegitimate.Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Haziran 2015, 20:48