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A massive phone company is pulling out of Israel, and Israel is NOT happy

Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “miserable” decision.

Mideast Israel Boycott Partner/Orange HQ in Rosh Haain, Israel. Source: Associated Press

MASSIVE FRENCH PHONE and telecoms company Orange said today it was planning to withdraw its brand from Israel.

In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out, demanding that the French government distance itself from what he called a “miserable” decision.

Orange is partly controlled by the French state.

I call on the French government to publicly renounce the miserable remarks and the miserable action of a company that is under its partial ownership.
I call on our friends to unconditionally declare, in a loud and clear voice, that they oppose any kind of boycott of the state of the Jews.

Orange insisted that its decision to end its brand-licensing agreement with Partner, Israel’s second largest mobile operator, was not politically motivated, but has been widely interpreted as a response to Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The move comes after a report earlier this month which accused the telecoms giant of indirectly supporting settlement activity through its relationship with Partner.

The report accused Partner of building on confiscated Palestinian land, and urged Orange to cut its ties and publicly declare its desire to avoid contributing to the economic viability of the settlements.

Mideast Israel Politics File photo of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Source: Associated Press

Orange’s deputy director Pierre Louette told AFP ”We are not withdrawing from Israel,” and that they would continue to run a research centre and online media services enterprise in Israel.

One must not try to make a big deal out of a simple issue of company rights.

However, the decision has touched a raw nerve in Israel, which is increasingly concerned about global boycott efforts and the impact on its image abroad.

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President Reuven Rivlin said that “boycott” and “delegitimation” efforts against Israel existed even before the state’s creation and the motivation was “no different” from today.

Isaac Benbenisti, who becomes chairman of Partner on July 1, said he was “very, very angry”, accusing Orange of caving in to “very significant pressure” from pro-Palestinian activists and joining a global campaign to isolate Israel.

Contains reporting by AFP.

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Dan MacGuill

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