An ultra orthodox Jewish man walks past a store of Israeli telecom operator Partner
Jerusalem - AFP
Israeli mobile firm Partner announced on Tuesday it has begun operating under its own name after splitting with French company Orange following a major diplomatic dispute last year.
Orange announced in June that it would retake control of its brand in Israel, agreeing to pay up to 90 million euros ($100 million) to do so. The brand had been licensed to Partner for use in Israel until 2025.
Orange currently has research facilities in Israel but is not a mobile phone operator.
Attempts by the French company to recover use of its Orange brand in Israel led to a major diplomatic row after the head of the company, Stephane Richard, made comments that were interpreted as a desire to boycott the country for political reasons.
On June 3, Richard told a conference in Cairo that he would break the relationship with Partner immediately if it was legally possible, in comments seen as support for a Palestinian-led boycott campaign.
Partner also operates in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are considered illegal under international law.
A furious Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Richard's comments as "miserable".
Richard later said his comments were misinterpreted, that he did not support any kind of boycott and that Orange simply wanted to retake control of its brand.
He met Israeli leaders including Netanyahu in a bid to smooth over the controversy.
Orange, a partly state-owned French telecoms group, has insisted that the separation was cordial.
The French firm's logo has begun to disappear from Partner mobile phone screens, while Orange signage in its stores will also be removed in the coming days, a Partner official said.