A pro-Palestinian pressure group claimed success last week after Edinburgh Council rejected an attempt by a controversial firm to take over a range of public contracts.
The Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) had argued that Veolia should be excluded from Council contracts because of the company’s involvement in Israel’s Occupation of Palestine.
Veolia had been shortlisted to take over environmental services contracts, including refuse collection and street cleaning, but a Council report published Friday indicated that the firm is no longer being considered. This latest blow for Veolia comes on top of similar multi-billion pound losses around the world, and is likely to add to the pressure on the firm to cease providing waste and transport services to Israel’s illegal settlements in Palestine, including the construction of a tramway that the United Nations Human Rights Council deems, “in clear violation of international law”. The line is set to link Israel with some of its illegal settlements.
Council leaders also heard from leading law firm, Hickman & Rose, who warned that employing the French multinational could expose the local authority to “legal action for failing to take on board their obligation to recognise and comply with their duties and responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions and international law.”
Green Councilor Maggie Chapman, who had campaigned for Veolia’s exclusion, was pleased the Council had moved in line with other local authorities such as Swansea and Dublin who had already chosen to distance themselves from the multinational. “It is not enough for us to use warm words in support of the Palestinian people; we have to act on our convictions. Veolia props up the illegal Occupation by Israel of the Palestinian Territories, and the Council should have no part in such despicable activities.”
The Labour group had also argued for a boycott of the company. Said Councilor Angela Blacklock, “Veolia provides services to illegal settlements in Occupied Palestinian land and is therefore complicit in grave breaches of international and human rights law committed by the state of Israel”.
Unison activist, Marlyn Tweedie, is campaigning against the Council’s Alternative Business Model (ABM) plans to privatise public services generally, but said she was pleased about the rejection of Veolia’s bid specifically. “It’s bad enough that the Council intends to privatise essential public services, but it would have really rubbed salt in our wounds if Veolia had won the bid.”
SPSC Chair, Mick Napier, said the decision was “a victory for human rights”. He continued, “We have a duty to stand with the Palestinians and against the Israeli Occupation. Any company that helps maintain that illegal Occupation should not be surprised when local authorities chose to avoid them.”
This article was originally published at the website of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity campaign here.