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Orange chief to visit Israel after boycott scandal: Firm

AFP , Thursday 11 Jun 2015
French telecom operator Orange Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard
French telecom operator Orange Chairman and CEO Stephane Richard speaks during the company's 2014 annual results presentation in Paris February 17, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)
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French telecoms group Orange said its boss Stephane Richard was heading to Israel Thursday for a two-day visit after his plans to review ties with a local firm sparked a boycott row.

Richard accepted an invitation from Israel to "clarify the misunderstanding" after he said last week in Cairo that Orange was going to withdraw its brand from Israel.

His comments were seen as a reaction to a report accusing Orange of indirectly supporting settlement activity on occupied territory through its relationship with Israel's Partner Communications.

Israel reacted furiously, accusing him of bowing to a Palestinian-led boycott campaign.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the campaign to snub Israeli goods was aimed at the "elimination" of Israel.

Richard quickly tried to limit the damage, insisting there was no political motivation and telling AFP at the weekend that he "sincerely regrets" the furore.

"It was never the question for a second that Orange would withdraw from Israel," he told French TV station BFMTV.

Partner, Israel's second largest mobile operator which has a licence to use the Orange brand, insisted that he travel to the country to explain himself and Richard was quick to accept an invitation from the government.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online. 

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