Stephane Richard, CEO of the French telecommunications giant Orange, visited Israel in an effort to repair ties following his recent controversial remarks in Cairo that suggested he would support a boycott of Israel “tomorrow” if he could.
Orange has a 10-year licensing agreement on cell phone service with Israel’s Partner Communications.
Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, Richard said, “I regret deeply this controversy and I want to make totally clear that Orange as a company has never supported and will never support any kind of boycott against Israel.”
“We are doing business, we are doing communication, we are here to connect people, certainly not to participate in any kind of boycott,” he said. “Israel is a fantastic place to be in the digital industry and of course our will is to strengthen and to keep on investing here.”
Netanyahu told Richard that it is “no secret that the remarks you made last week were widely seen as an attack on Israel, and so your visit here is an opportunity to set the record straight.”
“We seek a genuine and secure peace with our Palestinian neighbors, but that can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions,” Netanyahu said. “It will not be achieved through boycotts and through threats of boycotts.”