Opinions of Peter Belmont
Speaking Truth to Power

Solving the Israel-Orange Problem Using Free-Trade Methodology

by Peter A. Belmont / 2015-06-09
© 2015 Peter Belmont


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The wish of the French company “Orange” to terminate the licensing of its business name to an Israeli company operating in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPTs) is understandable when one considers that Orange could suffer losses due to this licensing in two ways.

It could lose money through government/legal action (due to its involvement with an Israeli company operating in OPTs (and thus operating illegally in the international view). And it could lose money through citizen boycott action pursuant to the Palestinian BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement.

Israel has made it clear that it does not wish Orange to terminate the license.

Happily, there is a way out of this difficulty!

It is through a prominent mechanism of many so-called free-trade agreements (more properly called investor-protection agreements). These agreements provide that any company which invests in a country not its own and thereafter suffers business losses due to actions thereafter taken by such host countries may recover those losses from the host country in something like a legal proceeding.

All Orange and Israel need do is reach an agreement which provides that Israel will reimburse Orange for any business loss occasioned by or attributable to its licensing its name to any Israeli company doing business in OPTs.

If Israel will sign such an agreement, then it is win-win:

If Israel will sign such an agreement, then Orange wins because it is now off the hook for business losses due to involvement with Israeli companies doing business in OPTs.

And in this case, Israel itself shows the world that it is betting that it will not do anything (including continuing doing anything) that will end up costing Orange any money due to its involvement with illegal (as the world sees it) business activities in the OPTs.

If Israel will not sign such a guarantee, well then:

If Israel will not sign such a guarantee, then it is a red-flag to the proponents of BDS that their boycott/divestment/sanctions project is working and that Israel is feeling the pain too much to dare to bail out a company such as Orange.

It also seems to be a signal that Israel has no intention of correcting the behavior that endangers Orange.

And in this case, Orange should indeed calculate its possible losses carefully as against the costs of terminating the license.

Why This is Happening

This entire thing is happening because the world’s nations have not been willing either, on the one hand, to defend Israel’s morally indefensible occupation and settlements projects, to say nothing of its apparently heavily war-crimes laden massive assaults on Gaza and Lebanon, or, on the other hand, to take severe action (sanctions) against Israel to persuade Israel to conform with International laws of war and of occupation.

By sitting on its collective hands, issuing mild rebukes to Israel without enforcement or sanctions to back them up (see UNSC 465/1980), the international community has left the problem of Israel and Palestine to the world’s citizens, “the people”.

And the BDS phenomenon has been a Palestinian step toward non-violent action to persuade Israel to do what international law and simple justice appear to require using the energy and moral power of the world’s citizens to boycott Israel and Israeli companies and other institutions, to seek divestment of shares from companies which profit from the occupation and settlements projects, and to induce the world’s nations to impose sanctions on Israel, all to achieve BDS’s goals—an end to the occupation, an end to discrimination against non-Jews inside Israel, and a right of return (to Israel) of the Palestinians exiled by Israel’s “ethnic cleansing” during the 1948 war.


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