Stéphane Richard, Chairman of Worldwide Orange, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Former Israeli President Shimon Peres today to deny rumors that the telecommunication giant intends to boycott Israel.
Standing opposite Netanyahu, Richard said he had come to “clear the confusion created after those statements. I regret deeply this controversy and I want to make it totally clear that Orange as a company has never supported and will never support any kind of boycott against Israel.”
Last week in Cairo Richard appeared to link his firm’s desire to leave Israel with currying favor with Arab countries.
“International business investment also can help bring peace to the world. It is part of what we do at Orange every day in our industry that connects people across borders,” Richard told Peres.
“Partly because of that, and partly because of our values, we at Orange are totally opposed to any boycott of Israel. So I am here to clear up any confusion created over statements I made that were distorted and misunderstood about our activities in Israel.”
In his opening remarks, President Peres condemned every and any manner of boycott against Israel: “Your visit to Israel is highly significant. It must be made clear that you are opposed to the BDS movement and that you support Israel. Boycotts burn the bridges of peace formed instead of bringing people together and promoting tolerance. It is therefore of the highest importance that your company clarifies that it is against the boycott. I am delighted that Orange is expanding its activities and investments in Israel.”
“Israel has become a Start-Up Nation and it is our hope that our entire region will advance along with our technological progress. We are developing advanced technologies and are encouraging our neighbors to take part in them. Together, we must fight against terror and boycotts and instead promote peace and progress. It must be understood that the BDS movement damages the efforts for peace and tolerance. Your deceleration against boycotts is clear and I am happy to know that this is your position.”