Orange willing to terminate its contract with Israeli telecommunication company Partner: a statement that must be accompanied by concrete measures

Our organizations [1] welcome the statement made by the CEO of the Orange Group Stéphane Richard on 3 June 2015 of his willingness to terminate the contract between Orange and the Israeli telecommunication company Partner, active in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

This statement follows the recent publication of the joint report "Orange’s dangerous liaisons in Occupied Palestinian Territory” by our organizations.

The concerned organizations had repeatedly requested that Orange publicly recognize the risks associated with this business relationship with Partner, in particular with its involvement in human rights and international humanitarian law violations. The joint report published on 6 May 2015 showed that through this brand licensing agreement with Partner, Orange indirectly contributes to the maintenance of Israeli settlements, recognized illegal under international law and involving numerous human rights abuses.

Orange’s CEO statement on Wednesday is an important development that must now be translated into concrete measures. Orange’s insistence on the need to avert legal and financial risks which it expects to incur as a result of the contract’s early termination, however, suggests that it may delay the implementation of these measures. Under the company’s current contractual obligations, the brand license agreement is intended to continue for 10 more years. Given the ongoing colonization policy by the Israeli authorities and the human rights violations entailed, such a delay is unjustifiable.

In the interim, Orange must review its contract with Partner and adopt measures to ensure that it is not involved in settlement related activities, including through the introduction of clauses that exclude Israeli settlements from the agreement’s scope of application and concerning respect for human rights.

The French Government, which is the principal minority shareholder of Orange, and which our organizations have repeatedly addressed on this matter, should take immediate action vis-à-vis the Group, in accordance to its international human rights obligations and public policy commitments on the illegality of Israeli settlements. In addition, the French authorities should strengthen the government advisory issued to French companies so that they cease all activities in Israeli settlements.

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