Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday condemned the "miserable" decision of French telecoms giant Orange to withdraw its brand from Israel, urging Paris to distance itself from the company.
"I call on the French government to publicly renounce the miserable remarks and the miserable action of a company that is under its partial ownership," he said, a day after Orange's chairman announced he would withdraw from Israel "tomorrow morning" if he could.
Orange, which is partly controlled by the French government, announced on Thursday its decision to end its brand-licensing agreement with Partner, Israel's second largest mobile operator, stressing that the move was not politically motivated.
However, Israel saw the decision as a "boycott" linked to Partner's operations in the occupied West Bank.
"The absurd drama in which the democracy that observes human rights –- the State of Israel -– and which defends itself from barrages of missiles and terrorist tunnels, and then absorbs automatic condemnations and attempted boycotts, this absurd drama will not be forgiven," Netanyahu said at a memorial ceremony.
"I call on our friends to unconditionally declare -– in a loud and clear voice –- that they oppose any kind of boycott of the state of the Jews," he said in remarks relayed by his office in English.