By Tom Anderson & Therezia Cooper
2018 Update – Orange has pulled out of its franchise deal with Israeli company Partner Communications after pressure from the BDS movement see here. When we visited Palestine in 2018 the Partner network was no longer using the Orange brand name.
Orange has an authorised shop or kiosk, via its franchise, Partner Communications, in many of the larger settlements in both the West Bank and the occupied Golan and advertises very heavily in them. Orange mobile phone masts (operated by Partner Communications) are located both inside the settlements themselves and on land specifically confiscated for the masts. The masts are situated to benefit the settlements and the Israeli army. The Orange brand, owned by France Telecom, is entirely separate from the Partner Communications Company, but this does not mean that it is innocent in the situation.
The agreement by the mobile phone company Orange, which is owned by France Télécom, to license the Israeli Partner Communications Company to use its name and logo makes France Telecom and the Orange brand complicit in the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.
When Partner launched Orange Israel the brandname was registered by Hutchison Whampoa, who were a major shareholder in Partner. The success of the new network when it was launched in 1999 is generally considered one of the best advertising efforts undertaken in Israel, largely due to the brandname. Hutchison Whampoa divested their shares from Partner in 2009. Since France Télécom took over Orange PLC in 2000 it has kept up this agreement, thus supporting the activities of the Israeli company, whose success relies heavily on Orange brand recognition. By withdrawing the licence for their name and logo France Telecom could take a very visible stance against the occupation rather that silently aiding it.
Partner Communications (Orange Israel) has kiosks in the settlements of Beitar Illit,Ma’ale Adumim, Pisgat Ze’ev and Modi’in Illit and has erected over 160 antennas and telecommunication infrastructure facilities on occupied territory.
For Who Profits’ page on the Partner Communications Company see: http://www.whoprofits.org/Company%20Info.php?id=713
Partner Communications Company is now controlled by Ilan Ben-Dov’s company Scailex Corporation which owns 51% of its shares.
France Telecom (www.francetelecom.com) is based in Paris. The company has offices and franchises worldwide.