BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat has urged the French government to end a national telecom company’s involvement with its Israeli partner over mass violations of Palestinian rights in the occupied territories.
Last Thursday, the PLO official wrote to France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to express concern over Orange’s involvement with Israel’s military occupation, illegal settlements and the deadly war on Gaza last year.Orange, formally know as France Telecom Orange, renewed a trademark license with its Israeli partner operator in 2011, becoming Orange Israel.
“The French company has become a partner in Israel’s occupation of the State of Palestine and a complicit member in Israel’s illegal settlement activities through this agreement and the profits reaped as a result,” the letter seen by Ma’an said.
The phone company has placed antennae and communications in the occupied West Bank on annexed private Palestinian land and has built phone stores in the illegal settlements of Ariel, Beitar Illit, Modin Illit, and Mishor Adumim.
The phone company was also complicit in Israel’s military operation last summer in Gaza by sponsoring combat units which killed over 2,200 Palestinians, launching a campaign entitled ‘Adopt a soldier,’ the letter stated.Orange does not pay taxes to the PA for any of its activities on occupied Palestinian land.French Orange’s partnership with Orange Israel is contributing to Israel’s deliberate policy of creating illegal “facts on the ground” by reinforcing Israeli settlements, actions which are in direct violation of France’s duties under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Erekat said.
The PLO official urged France to insist that Orange “immediately cancel its contractual agreement and cease its involvement with ‘Orange Israel.'”The French government is a 25 percent shareholder in Orange.The letter echoes a report published in May by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its partner organizations Al-Haq, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, Association France Palestine Solidarit, Ligue des droits de l’Homme, Union Syndicale Solidaires and the French trades union federation Confdration Gnrale du Travail (CGT).The report urged the French company to cut ties with its Israeli partner and called on European states to end economic cooperation with illegal Israeli settlements.