French government opposes boycott of Israel, after France's Orange announces pullout

France's foreign minister is criticizing any boycott of Israel, amid uproar over French telecom giant Orange's announcement that it wants to cut ties with Israel.

Laurent Fabius said in a statement Friday that it is up to Orange to determine its business strategy, but "France is firmly opposed to a boycott of Israel."

Orange's chief executive Stephane Richard said Wednesday he wants to end his company's relationship with an Israeli partner because of sensitivity to Arab countries.

The announcement angered Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and boosted a growing movement seeking boycotts of companies that operate in West Bank settlements.

France and the European Union firmly oppose the settlements, arguing that they thwart efforts for lasting peace because they are built on land the Palestinians want for a future state.