Orange CEO says he would end link to Israel operator 'tomorrow,' though it risks penalties

The chief executive officer of French mobile phone giant Orange says he would end his company's relationship with an Israeli operator that pays to use its name "tomorrow" if he could, but that to do so would be a "huge risk" in terms of penalties.

Speaking Wednesday at a news conference in Cairo laying out the company's plans for the years ahead in Egypt, Stephane Richard says that his company's intention is to withdraw the Orange brand from Israel as soon as possible, but that the move would take time.

French human rights organizations have been pushing their government, which has a quarter stake in Orange, and the company itself, to end the relationship over Partner Communications Ltd.'s activity in Israeli settlements, which are considered illegal by the international community.