Civil society orgs. welcome news Orange has renegotiated its agreement with Partner Communications following criticism of its support for Israeli settlements

Bientôt la fin des liaisons dangereuses d'Orange dans les colonies israeliennes

On 29 May 2015 we invited Orange to respond to the report: “Orange’s Dangerous liaisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” which calls for Orange to end its brand licence contract with Partner Communications, an Israeli company "that operates and conducts business activities and make benefits in the Israeli settlements.".

On 4 June 2015 Orange sent us a public statement in response stating that "while strictly adhering to existing agreements, the Group ultimately wishes to end this agreement".

On 30 June 2015 Orange announced it had renegotiated its contract with Partner Communications allowing it to end the contract in the next two years.  The civil society orgs. who authored the report welcomed the move by Orange saying it was aimed at ending the contract by the end of 2017.

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Article
30 June 2015

Contract between Orange and Partner to end by 2017: A victory for human rights

Author: FIDH (Intl. Federation for Human Rights)

Orange announced...that it has amended its contract with Partner, an Israeli telecommunications company operating in Israeli settlements. This amendment aims at terminating this contract within two years, in exchange for a compensation of tens of millions of euros. Civil society organisations (CSOs)...authors of a report....entitled "Orange dangerous liaisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," welcome this announcement and call upon Orange to implement the termination process within the set time frame. Notwithstanding, CSOs regret that Orange has not publicly recognized the risks of human rights abuses related to its business relationship with Partner, in contrast with other companies and investors who have publicly done so.Business enterprises have a responsibility to ensure they do not contribute directly or indirectly to the maintenance of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), recognized as illegal under international law, and involving numerous violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. In failing to bring Partner to end its business activities in Israeli settlements, Orange was obliged to end its brand licensing agreement with Partner in order to meet its duty of human rights due diligence.

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Article
30 June 2015

Orange press release announcing new framework agreement

Author: Orange

Orange...and Partner Communications.... announce that they have signed an agreement which creates a new framework for their relationship...The agreement provides both Partner and Orange the right to terminate the current Orange brand license agreement (the “BLA”): If Partner does not exercise its right to terminate within 12 months, either Partner or Orange may terminate the Brand Licensing Agreement during the following 12 months.In addition, the agreement provides for total payments of €40 million to Partner from signing the agreement until completion of the market study, and an additional €50 million should the BLA be terminated within 24 months...

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Article
14 June 2015

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

Author: FIDH

"Orange willing to terminate its contract with Israeli telecommunication company Partner: a statement that must be accompanied by concrete measures", 04 June 2015

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...

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Article
14 June 2015

The controversy around Orange evades the real problem: trade with Israeli settlements

Author: FIDH

"The controversy around Orange evades the real problem: trade with Israeli settlements", 10 June 2015

Our organizations, all of them co-authors of the report "Orange’s dangerous liaisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," [1] denounce the Group’s backpedaling in relation to its stated desire to terminate its contract with the Israeli operator Partner, present in the illegal settlements, following unacceptable pressure exerted by the Israeli government. We regret that Orange has not publicly and explicitly recognized the risk the company runs of indirectly contributing to violations of international law due to its business relationship with Partner. The current controversy, prompted by Orange’s CEO statements during his press conference in Cairo on 3 June 2015, is regrettable in that it ignores the main problem: the illegality of Israeli settlements under international law. Our organizations recall that French companies must respect human rights wherever they operate, and that in the case of armed conflict, such as in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), they must comply with international humanitarian law. Therefore, business enterprises must ensure they do not directly or indirectly contribute to the maintenance of Israeli settlements in the OPT, which are recognized as illegal under international law and entail numerous human rights violations...

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Company response
4 June 2015

Orange clarifies its position with regards to its brand licence agreement with Partner Communications

Author: Orange

The Orange Group is a telecoms operator and as such its primary concern is to defend and promote the value of its brand in markets in which it is present. The Group does not engage in any kind of political debate under any circumstance. The Orange Group has no operational presence in Israel. It has a brand licence agreement with the operator Partner Communications. The Orange Group is not a shareholder of Partner and has no influence on the strategy or operational development of this company. This agreement, which was signed prior to the acquisition of Orange by France Telecom in 2000, is the only long-term brand licence agreement within the Orange Group. In line with its brand development strategy, Orange does not wish to maintain the presence of the brand in countries in which it is not, or is no longer, an operator. In this context, and while strictly adhering to existing agreements, the Group ultimately wishes to end this agreement.

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Article
3 June 2015

Orange says it plans to cut ties with Israel over human rights concerns

Author: Peter Beaumont, Guardian

"Orange says it plans to terminate contract with brand partner in Israel", 04 June 2015

The French telecoms giant Orange has indicated that it intends to terminate its relationship with the Israeli company that licenses its brand in the country – and would end the relationship “tomorrow” if it could. The comments – made by the company’s CEO, Stephane Richard – have emerged amid a sharp push back by the Israeli government against growing calls for an international boycott of Israel over its continuing occupation of Palestinian territories, and was immediately condemned by several Israeli ministers. Although Orange only licenses its name to the Israeli company Partner, the threat – if carried through – will be seen as a major success for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which has been campaigning on the issue in both France and Egypt. Orange, in which the French government has a quarter stake, has been under pressure in France as well as in Egypt to terminate its relationship with Partner over its supply of services to Israeli settlements regarded as illegal under international law...

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Article
27 May 2015

Orange in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: the company should recognize its responsibility, the State shareholder should halt its support of Israeli settlements

Author: FIDH (Intl. Federation for Human Rights)

Following the 6 May publication of a report entitled “Orange’s Dangerous liaisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, AFPS, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, CGT, FIDH, LDH, Solidaires and the Collectif national pour une paix juste et durable entre Palestiniens et Israéliens (CNPJDPI) were pleased that on 26 May 2015, they were finally able to meet with Orange. They noted the fact that Orange recognises that having business relations with Partner poses risks to the company’s reputation. The representative of Orange recalled that an amendment was made in March 2015 to the brand-licensing agreement that would allow it to terminate the agreement in ten years. The civil society groups did not feel that this response was satisfactory. Nonetheless, the authors of the report asked Orange to publicly and explicitly state its decision to disengage and to denounce the human rights violations that Partner is involved in in Israeli settlements in the OPT.

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Article
25 May 2015

Egyptians launch boycott of Orange-owned Mobinil over complicity in Israeli crimes

Author: Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada

Egyptian campaigners are calling on fellow citizens to dump the mobile phone company Mobinil because its parent corporation Orange is complicit in Israeli crimes against Palestinians....They announced that the boycott would continue until Orange withdrew from Israel and ended its support for the Israeli occupation army...Orange operates in Israel through a franchise agreement with an Israeli company called Partner Communications Ltd. The global telecom company participates in systematic violations of Palestinian rights, according to an investigation published this month by a coalition of French and Palestinian human rights and labor organizations. The report notes that Orange profits from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as Partner operates hundreds of communications towers and other infrastructure, much of it on privately owned land confiscated from Palestinians.

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Report
1 May 2015

full report: "Orange’s dangerous liaisons in the Occupied Palestinian Territory"

Author: AFPS, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, CGT, FIDH, LDH, Solidaires, Collectif national pour une paix juste et durable entre Palestiniens et Israéliens (CNPJDPI)

The United Nations, the European Union and the French government have all declared that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) are illegal under international law. The creation and expansion of settlements have led to numerous violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations of Palestinian people...Partner is an Israeli telecommunications company that operates and conducts business activities and make benefits in the Israeli settlements....This business relationship with Partner is based on a brand-licensing agreement signed in 1998, renewed in 2011 and amended in 20154. This agreement allows Partner to use the Orange brand and image in exchange of royalties, and is the basis for Partner’s marketing and competition strategy. The relationship between Orange and Partner is thus contractual and commercial, and constitute a ‘business relationship’ as defined both by the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises6 and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human rights. According to these international instruments, such a business relationship entails responsibilities for Orange to ensure respect for human rights and other international law including by undertaking appropriate due diligence. The authors of this report have demanded that Orange end its business relationship with Partner numerous times...

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