Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi HotovelyFlash 90

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely on Thursday evening called on the French government to condemn the French-based cellular phone provider Orange's decision to cut ties with Israel.

"I have instructed ministry officials in France to clarify that Israeli government officials expect them to forcefully condemn the move of Orange, especially given the fact that the French government owns shares in the company," she said.

"We expect all European countries to speak out against boycotts of any kind and not to lend a hand to those distributing hate and lies,” added Hotovely.

Earlier Thursday, the French cell phone company announced that it has decided to halt its operations in Israel and end its partnership with the Israeli company Partner, which franchises Orange's name in Israel.

The dramatic move comes as Israel is launching a political campaign in response to the insulting comments made Wednesday by Stephane Richard, CEO of Orange, in which he said he wished he could "dump" Israel "tomorrow," which he in fact did.

"Orange doesn't want to continue to hold its brand name in countries in which it isn't the direct provider. Therefore, Orange is interested in putting an end to giving permits to (use) its brand name," read the Orange statement announcing the move.

Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev responded to the move by calling on French President Francois Hollande to immediately fire Richard if he does not apologize for his anti-Semitic comments.

"On the backdrop of the recent serious events in France, the French government must show zero tolerance for anti-Semitism," said Regev, referencing the growing wave of anti-Semitic violence in the country that was highlighted in January by a Muslim jihadist holding a kosher supermarket hostage in Paris and murdering four Jews.

The minister added, "I call on Jews of France and the world to disconnect from Orange unless Stephane Richard takes back his words. The time has come for them to understand that Jews in the world and sane voices that oppose anti-Semitism and racism also have power."

"It's important for me to note that the Israeli public must not turn Partner into a victim of this statement," she warned, referencing the Israeli Orange cell phone provider. "Partner is an Israeli company that employs thousands of workers in Israel, and I wish to strengthen its management and workers."