Israel – Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development
Press briefing by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesman (excerpt)
Even though it is up to the Chairman of the Orange Group to define his company’s commercial strategy, France is firmly opposed to boycotting Israel. Moreover, France and the European Union have a steadfast, well-known position on settlement activity.
Q. – From your point of view, is Orange’s decision part of a commercial strategy or does it come under boycotting?
THE SPOKESMAN – The company has explained the meaning of the decision announced by the Chairman of Orange and said that it was a commercial strategy decision. I refer you to them for further details. The Minister recalled France’s position, our firm opposition to a boycott of Israel and, moreover, our well-known position on settlement activity.
Q. – Is the Orange Group’s decision nevertheless in line with the warning you issued on the Ministry’s website in, I think, June 2014, advising businesses and individuals against having economic activities in the settlements? How does this decision tie in with the warning you issued?
THE SPOKESMAN – As with most European Union member states, you’ll find a section under travel advice on the Foreign Ministry website which makes it clear that “economic activities in the settlements or benefiting the settlements entail legal and economic risks linked to the fact that Israel’s settlements, according to international law, are built on occupied lands and are not recognized as being part of Israel’s territory. This is likely to lead to disputes linked to land, water, mineral resources and other natural resources which could be subject to purchase or investment, as well as reputational risks.”
Q. – Have the French authorities contacted Orange management for explanations?
THE SPOKESMAN – I note that, in the media, the decision announced by the Chairman of Orange has been interpreted as being comparable to a boycott of Israel. The firm issued a statement, emphasizing that the decision announced by the firm’s chairman was a commercial strategy decision, with no link to a political situation.
As the issue was being publicly debated, the Minister recalled this morning that France’s position on the matter is very clear. France is firmly opposed to any boycott of Israel. He also recalled our steadfast position on settlement activity.
Q. – When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asks the French government to disown Orange, is there no question of that?
THE SPOKESMAN – The Minister is very clear in his statement. The Chairman of Orange decides the strategy for the company; France’s position on the boycott is very clear, we’re firmly opposed to it and we’re committed to developing relations with that country. Moreover, we also recall our position on settlement activity, which is that of the European Union, with a condemnation of settlement activity, which is an obstacle to peace.
Q. – The FIDH [International Federation for Human Rights] issued a
communiqué yesterday saying pressure had been put on Orange to possibly withdraw from the occupied territories and above all from the territories where there are settlements. Do you confirm that statement, or was it a solely commercial decision?
THE SPOKESMAN – I don’t have to interpret a decision taken by a business; I remind you of the government’s position as set out by the Foreign Minister this morning. (…)./.