Shalom Life | October 19, 2015

Orange CEO Invited to Israel to Answer for Recent Boycott Comments

Stephane Richard accepts the invitation in order to “clarify the misunderstanding”

By: Nathan Burley

Published: June 8th, 2015 in Business » Israel

Photo: Stephane Richard


Israel National News reports that Orange CEO Stephane Richard has been invited by Israel to speak on his recent remarks, that without subtlety, express his desire to end commercial ties to Israel. Representatives of the French telecommunications company have responded to the invitation, saying the CEO will travel to Israel “soon” to clarify his comments and review Orange’s commercial ties to Israel.

At a press conference in Cairo last week, Richard made comments about wishing he could “dump” Israel - meaning to sever all business relations to the Jewish state. Richard’s comment sparked immediate outrage and was interpreted to be a plan for a politically motivated boycott of Israel. Following Richard’s seemingly anti-Israel remarks, the French government made it very clear that they are “firmly opposed” to an Israel boycott.

However, Richard was quick to apologize for his remarks. Just a few days after his comments sparked controversy, Richard told Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, "I am a friend of Israel, I love Israel, my words were taken out of context and misinterpreted. I apologize on behalf of me and the company for the statements. We at Orange deplore boycotts of any kind.”

Also regarding his comments, Richard told Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, “It is a purely commercial point regarding the use of our brand by the company (Partner Communications) under a license agreement, we don't want to do that." This is to say that Richard was not making any political or anti-Israel point. He was rather addressing his dissatisfaction with Orange’s licensing agreement with Partner Communications and the poor profit projections that the company faced in Israel.

Partner Communications is an Israeli-Chinese company that pays Orange to use its name in Israel.

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