France-Israel dispute ropes in Captiol Hill

France-Israel dispute ropes in Captiol Hill
© Greg Nash

Rep. Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamEx-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm Blue states angry over SALT cap should give fiscal sobriety a try Illinois Dems offer bill to raise SALT deduction cap MORE (R-Ill.) sent a letter Friday to French President François Hollande criticizing a move by a French telecommunications giant to cut ties with Israel.

Roskam, co-chairman of the House Republican Israel Caucus, told Hollande to “reject” this week's comments from Orange’s corporate head.

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“Cutting off economic ties with an Israeli company in political protest will only advance the cause of hatred and intolerance in France and throughout the world,” Roskam wrote in the letter. “It certainly won’t help achieve peace in the Middle East, and it moves the global economy in a dangerous and unproductive direction.” 

“France and the United States have a long and fruitful partnership rooted in extensive strategic and economic cooperation, and economic attacks such as this against our mutual friend Israel cannot be left unanswered,” he added.

The announcement by Orange, which came in the midst of a growing call for companies to boycott Israel, is facing increased scrutiny this week. 

On Wednesday, the European cellular giant’s CEO, Stéphane Richard, said the company intended to “withdraw from Israel.”

"I am ready to do this tomorrow morning ... but without exposing Orange to huge risks," Richard added.

Orange’s announcement is part of a growing pro-Palestinian movement to pull business interests out of Israel.

The company’s announcement sparked a furor in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the French government to “distance itself publicly from the miserable statement and miserable action.”

The French government has a small stake in the ownership of Orange.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Friday that the Obama administration opposes boycotts of Israel.