Israel is “fantastic,” or at least that is what Stephane Richard, the CEO of the French telecoms, told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this morning in a second apology for his having stated last week in Egypt that his company wanted to pull out of Israel “tomorrow.”
In Richard’s first attempt to make amends he released a statement from France. Then the French ambassador in Israel issued an apology. The New York Times reported the diplomat was rebuffed, Netanyahu wanted a more forceful show from Richard that he unequivocally had retracted his remarks about boycotting Israel.
And so Richard, after being invited by the Israeli government for an apology-trip, boarded a plane, flew to Israel, and repented in-person:
“Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for your invitation. It’s an honor to meet with you this morning, and it give me also an opportunity to clear up the confusion that was created after those statements. I regret deeply this controversy and I want to make totally clear that Orange as a company has never supported and will never support any kind of boycott against Israel. We are doing business, we are doing communication, we are here to connect people, certainly not to participate in any kind of boycott. Israel is a fantastic place to be in the digital industry and of course our will is to strengthen and to keep on investing here.”
Netanyahu also had words for Richard:
“It’s no secret that the remarks you made last week were widely seen as an attack on Israel and so your visit here is an opportunity to set the record straight. Israel is the one country in the Middle East that guarantees full civic rights. It’s the one county in the Middle East where everyone is protected under the law equally. We seek a genuine and secure peace with our Palestinian neighbors, but that can only be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties without preconditions. It will not be achieved through boycotts and through threats of boycotts.”