Israel’s Netanyahu to meet Orange chief over exit plan
JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to meet the chief executive of French telecom giant Orange SA to discuss the CEO’s recent comments on pulling out of Israel, officials said Thursday.
The meeting was expected to take place on Friday in Israel, they said.
CEO Stephane Richard caused uproar in Israel last week after announcing he wanted to sever business ties with Israel as soon as possible, citing a desire to improve business relations in the Arab world.
Orange has been a target of an anti-Israel boycott campaign because its local partner maintains a series of transmission towers in Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Richard’s comments appeared to give a boost to the boycott campaign. Israel has grown increasingly jittery as the movement appears to gain steam, claiming pro-Palestinian activists are out to “delegitimize” Israel’s right to exist.
Richard has since tried to backtrack, telling a French TV station this week that there was no boycott and that he is “radically opposed to all forms of discrimination.” But he said he is sticking by his business decision to end the relationship with Israel’s Partner Communications Ltd.
Israeli media said Richard arrived in Israel on Thursday. An Orange spokeswoman, speaking anonymously under company guidelines, confirmed plans for Friday’s meetings, but declined to discuss the content of the trip.
An Israeli official also confirmed a meeting was set for Friday, but declined to give further details. The official spoke on condition of anonymity pending a formal announcement.
AP correspondent Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.