‘There will be no boycott’ by Orange: Israeli lawmaker
Israelis shop inside a store belonging to Partner, which uses the name of French telecom company Orange, in Jerusalem on June 4, 2015. (AFP/Thomas Coex)
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls promised to join in the talks with telecom giant Orange in an effort to persuade the company not to leave Israel, an Israeli lawmaker said Sunday.
“There is not and there will be no boycott of Israel,” Valls said, according to MK Stav Shaffir who met with him over the weekend.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was also set to speak with French President Francois Hollande on Sunday, as anger over the reported pullout of the mobile firm from Israel failed to subside despite the company walking back its comments.
Israelis said the reported pullout was part of a larger international boycott campaign, after CEO Stephane Richard told a Cairo crowd on Wednesday the company would leave Israel “tomorrow” if not for financial penalties.
Richard and the company backpedaled Saturday, saying that the French telecom group is in Israel “to stay,” after his earlier statements drew a severe backlash from the Israeli government and the Israeli firm, Partner, that leases its name.
Calls against the boycott also came from French politicians.
“Although it is for the president of the Orange group to determine the commercial strategy of the company, France is firmly opposed to a boycott of Israel,” France’s top diplomat Laurent Fabius said Friday.
Shaffir, who was in France visiting the country’s socialist party congress, wrote in an extended Facebook post that nearly every politician she met with echoed Valls’ and Fabius’ statements in support of Israel.
“Everyone is voicing the same message: We are vehemently opposed to boycott. We stand by Israel, the Jewish state. We support your right to defend yourselves,” Shaffir wrote.
She also blamed Netanyahu for allowing the boycott campaign to thrive as ties with Europe faltered amid the stagnant peace process.
Neither the French “nor any other Western nation can accept the prime minister’s policy of refusing to advance the two-state solution,” she said.
At the start of this week’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu claimed that the Boycott, Divestment, Sanction movement was aimed at the country’s very existence, not its West Bank policies.
“As far as those pushing the boycotts are concerned, the settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the focus of the conflict,” he said, “but our settling in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Beersheba, Haifa and — of course — Jerusalem.”
The prime minister called for bipartisan cooperation to combat the BDS movement and said the country would spearhead an “offensive” measure to fight the movement.
“Against attempts to attack Israel with lies, false accusations and boycotts,” Netanyahu said, “we must line up – right and left – to rebuff the pressure, expose the lies and attack those who attack us.”
By Judah Ari Gross
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.
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