Orange CEO to Netanyahu: We will not participate in boycott against Israel

Orange CEO Stéphane Richard tells the prime minister that it is "ludicrous to think our business development plans in Israel are the result of political pressure."

June 12, 2015 11:46
1 minute read.
Chairman and CEO of Orange Stephane Richard and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Chairman and CEO of Orange Stephane Richard and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

Orange Chairman and CEO Stéphane Richard met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday morning in the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem. Richard requested the meeting in order to apologize and clarify the company's position regarding Israel, after statements he made about wanting to end business ties with Israel created a major controversy.

"It is no secret that what you said last week has been seen by many as an attack on Israel," said Netanyahu at the beginning of the meeting. "Your visit here is an opportunity to set the record straight."

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"We seek true peace with our Palestinian neighbors, but this can be achieved only through direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions," he added. "Peace cannot be accomplished through boycotts or threats of boycotts."

Richard thanked the premier for his invitation to visit Israel and emphasized that Orange does not intend to participate in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

"Our company's vision is to connect people. That is the opposite of any involvement in boycotts or in political controversy," he said. "Our actions are not based on any political objectives, but rather on economic and business ones. It is therefore ludicrous to think that our business development plans in Israel are in any way the result of political pressure," he added.

“What Richard said in Cairo was very damaging,” a government official said, adding that it was important to hear him retract the comments with the prime minister. "The BDS movement has had very little success in the world of business, and no impact on the Israeli economy. It is a failure, so that when [Richard] made his comments, they thought they had something. It is very important that it is clearly understood that this was not the case.”

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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