An Israeli minister has asked the French government to dismiss the “anti-Semite” chief executive of the French telecommunications company Orange over its plans for severing business ties with Israeli mobile firm Partner.
Amid the outrage in Israel over the company’s plan, the regime’s Culture Minister Miri Regev on Thursday issued an appeal for the dismissal of Stephane Richard, the chief executive and chairman of Orange.
“The French government must show zero tolerance for anti-Semitism,” the Israeli minister said.
The latest comments are in line with Israel’s policy of labeling its critics as “anti-Semite.”
Meanwhile, the top official in Partner said Thursday that he is furious at remarks by Richard regarding the French company’s “intention” to withdraw its brand from the occupied territories.
“I am very, very angry. I think that what he said is the result of very significant pressure from pro-Palestinian (groups),” Isaac Benbenisti told Israeli media.
The Israeli company, which uses Orange’s brand based on a license, has been hugely criticized for operating in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.
The ongoing criticism has forced officials in Orange to announce plans for revoking the license as Israel’s continued expansion of the settlements in the area is viewed as illegal even by governments that usually support the Tel Aviv regime.
Earlier in the day, Stephane Richard said Orange will certainly stop its joint business with Partner.
“Our intention is to withdraw from Israel. It will take time,” Richard said, adding, “For sure we will do it… I am ready to do this tomorrow morning… but without exposing Orange to huge risks.”
The comments in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, came as several non-governmental organizations and unions in France have been calling for Orange to publicly state its willingness to end the joint operation with the Israeli firm.
They said in a recent report that Partner’s operating of an Israeli settlement perpetuates a situation considered illegal by many countries. They have also asked Orange to openly criticize and denounce Partner’s “attacks on human rights.”
The Israeli regime also reacted to Richard’s remarks, with the deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, sending a letter to the company demanding clarifications.
Many other companies and business enterprises around the world have already ceased their activities in the occupied territories as part of a global campaign known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).
The global campaign uses economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with the goals of the movement – the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees.