Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday slammed attempts to boycott Israel as "unacceptable," weighing in on a row between the Jewish state and partially state-owned French telecoms giant Orange.
The company's CEO Stephane Richard last Wednesday said it intends to "dump" Israel "tomorrow," a day before the company announced it would cut ties with Partner, an Israeli company franchising the Orange name in Israel.
"I do not want to be involved in controversy. I know that Stephane Richard will come here to explain himself," Sarkozy told reporters on a business-focused visit to Jerusalem, reports AFP.
"The boycott of Israel is unacceptable. I'm not saying there was a desire by the company (Orange) to boycott, but I will say that it is not this way that we will make peace," he said.
Richard made the comments indicating his desire to cut ties with Israel in Cairo, following on the heels of a months-long BDS campaign pressing him to boycott the Jewish state using the excuse of Partner's service to clients in Judea and Samaria.
While he claimed the decision was made for business interests and not political considerations in an interview with Israeli media – in which he claimed he was unfamiliar with the boycott movement – Orange just recently signed a ten-year extension of its contract with Partner putting the move in a more dubious light financially speaking.
Sarkozy's condemnation comes after French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius last Friday said, "although it is for the president of the Orange group to determine the commercial strategy of the company, France is firmly opposed to a boycott of Israel."
Fabius also used the opportunity to bash Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria – which is legal under international law – saying, "also, France and the European Union have a consistent policy on settlement-building that is known to all."