If he could, Stephane Richard, the CEO of French mobile company Orange said Wednesday, he would “tomorrow” end his company's association with its Israeli partner. “We want to terminate this and to fix this, we don’t want it,” Richard said at a press conference in Cairo. “In the existing contract, it gives us the option to terminate this without exposing this to a huge financial risk. If you were the CEO of this company you would act the same.”
In Israel, Orange is represented by Partner Communications, and Israeli-Chinese owned concern that franchises the name Orange. The Israeli company is completely independent of world Orange, the company said in response Wednesday to worried customers who flooded its phone centers with calls, seeking to find out if the company was dropping them as customers.
Orange has been targeted by a BDS campaign in Egypt and several European countries. The company raised the ire of BDS groups who allege that the Israel operation provided free phone calls to IDF soldiers fighting in Gaza during last summer's Operation Protective Edge. In the past several weeks, large numbers of Egyptians have switched companies, putting a dent into the company's business there. Richard was in Cairo, among other reasons, to plead with customers not to leave the company.
The only reason Orange has not terminated its franchise contract with Partner – from which, Richard said, “we make very little money” - was to avoid litigation in Israeli courts. “"Sorry to say, but a dispute with Partner when you have zero legal position in Israeli courts is not something that I would recommend for my company. I am not going to pay hundreds of millions of euros only because I would have (to) take a risk, a huge risk, in terms of the penalties that we could have if we entered into this kind of brutal process,” he said.
Earlier Wednesday, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) told MKs that “there is currently a large-scale campaign to delegitimize Israel, aimed against its existence as a Jewish nation. The aim of the campaign is not only to influence Israeli policy one way or another, but to demonize Israel, hurt its vital interests and its ability to defend itself, and eventually eliminate its existence as a Jewish and democratic state."
Boycotters are not talking about Judea and Samaria, but the existence of the state of Israel, Shaked noted. "This is the new face of anti-Semitism, these symptoms are the same old symptoms as anti-Semitism, which dehumanized Jews, and now does so for the Jewish state."
''What a hypocritical and self-serving world," she continued. "In Syria hundreds of thousands of children, women and men are being slaughtered, and the world is silent."