Stephane Richard, the chairman of the French Orange -the largest cellular service provider in Israel-, on Wednesday said that he would “gladly cut ties with Israel “tomorrow” if it wasn’t so financially prohibitive.”
Richard told reporters in Cairo that his company wished to distance itself from its role in facilitating Israel’s rule over the Palestinian territories.
Being one of Israel’s largest cellular service providers, human rights organizations in France have been pressuring Orange to boycott business operations with Israel in protest of Israeli policies against Palestinians.
“Believe me I would cancel the contract tomorrow if I could,” Richard said. His comments were reported by the Daily News Egypt.
Richard said that the language of Orange’s contract with its Israeli operator precludes it from pulling out.
“We didn’t renew the contract, we wanted to change the terms of the contract and include a termination date, as there previously wasn’t a termination date, and gave us no possibility of leaving the deal,” he said.
“We want to terminate this and to fix this, we don’t want it,” he said. “In the existing contract, it gives us the option to terminate this without exposing this to a huge financial risk. If you were the CEO of this company you would act the same.”
The executive said that the company is in a legally disadvantageous position when it comes to Israeli law.
“The only other possibility would be to enter a dispute with the partner, and I’m sorry to say but entering a dispute when you have zero legal grounds in Israeli courts is not something I would recommend for my company,” Richard said. “I am not willing to pay hundreds of millions of euros just because I have to take a risk in terms of penalties.”