In the News

Updates on Derail Veolia Campaign (France, Ireland)

April 24, 2009

Veolia and Alstom, the two large French companies involved in the illegal "Jerusalem Light Rail" project, are suffering more setbacks, in court and on the ground.

Veolia and Alstom, the two large French companies involved in the illegal "Jerusalem Light Rail" project, are suffering more setbacks, in court and on the ground.

 

A French court in Nanterre rejected the two companies' claim that it had no jurisdiction in the case against them (presented by French NGO AFPS), reaffirmed that Israel is the occupying power in East Jerusalem, not the sovereign, and confirmed the illegality of Israeli colonies built on occupied Palestinian land, including in East Jerusalem.

 

On the ground, Veolia lost another vote of confidence. A motion that passed with overwhelming majority (12 to 2) in Galway, Ireland read:

 

"That Galway City Council follow the example of Stockholm Community Council (who have decided not to renew the contract with Veolia to operate the City's underground system as a result of Veolia's involvement in a controversial tramway project that would connect Israeli-West Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory) and not renew the Veolia contract for Galway Water Services."

 

Resisting Israel's systematic ghettoization and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem cannot be done any more effectively than this. By making companies that profit from the Israeli occupation, colonization and apartheid lose money and reputation over it, an example is set and a moral red line is drawn. A legal precedent may also soon be set, making life much more difficult for all companies implicated in Israel's illegal colonial enterprise.

 

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123992141785126493.html#

 

French Court
to Hear Israeli Tram Case   

By DAVID GAUTHIER-VILLARS

 

 

PARIS -- Palestinian lobby groups that contest Israel's authority over East Jerusalem have found they might be helped via an unexpected route: a French court.

 

The court decided to take up the case against French companies contracted by Israel to build a tram line that runs deep into East Jerusalem from West Jerusalem.

 

A Franco-Palestinian human-rights association challenged the companies' participation, arguing that the line is designed to consolidate Israeli control over Arab districts seized after the Six-Day War in 1967. Most Israelis regard East Jerusalem as part of Israel's undivided capital.

 

The group, Association France-Palestine Solidarité, filed the complaint against

Alstom<http://online.wsj.com/public/quotes/main.html?type=djn&symbol=1022047.fr> SA and Veolia Environnement SA two years ago, arguing that the 8.3-mile project violates international law because East Jerusalem isn't sovereign Israeli territory. About half of the line is already built.

 

Veolia and Alstom quickly responded to the complaint by saying that the Nanterre court had no jurisdiction over the case and that the association's claims were groundless.

 

An official of the tribunal of Nanterre near Paris said the court ruled late Wednesday that it does have jurisdiction in the case. The tribunal, however, rejected on technical grounds a request by the Palestine Liberation Organization to be a co-plaintiff, the court official said. PLO representatives didn't return calls seeking comment.

 

Now the court will start looking into the substance of the complaint unless Alstom and Veolia exercise their right to appeal within one month. The companies both said they had been notified of the ruling, and an Alstom spokesman added the company will take time to study the ruling before deciding whether to appeal.

 

"The tribunal has backed our arguments; it's a positive step," said the association's secretary-general, Sylviane de Wangen.

 

Alstom and Veolia -- along with Israeli partners -- are part of a consortium that first won the Jerusalem tramway contract in 2002. Alstom is providing cars and laying the track, while Veolia is due to operate the system for 30 years. The French and Israeli partners first struggled to secure financing for the $1 billion tram route, which straddles the old East-West boundary known as the "Green Line."

 

===============

 

Councillors' unable to cut ties with controversial French company

by Marie Madden   

22 April 2009

http://www.galwayindependent.com/local-news/local-news/councillors%27-unable-to-cut-ties-with-controversial-french-company-/

 

Galway City Council has said it is not in a position to discontinue the contract of French multi-national Veolia, despite a majority vote by councillors. Cllr Billy Cameron had called on the council not to renew the company's contract as a result of Veolia's involvement in a controversial tramway project that would connect Israeli-West Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).

 

Stockholm Community Council have already decided not to renew their contracts with the company because of the project and councillors at Monday's meeting of Galway City Council voted 12-2 in favour of following their example.

 

"I believe the French conglomerate has serious questions to answer with regard to its involvement in Israel and OPT but I am not alone. Councillors were inundated with emails in the last week from activists from all over the world urging them to support my motion. The Irish Government and the UN do not recognise Israel's annexation and occupation of East Jerusalem and have repeatedly stated their views that the Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank contravene international law. The International Court of Justice have stated that Israel should dismantle settlements built in the OPT but instead the process has accelerated. Veolia are deeply embedded in this process as a result of their involvement in the controversial tramway project," said Cllr Cameron.

 

"I firmly believe that the movement to blacklist Veolia is only beginning and the message must go out to companies that international law and human rights take precedent over profit."

 

However, City Manager Joe MacGrath warned prior to the vote that the council were not in a position to terminate the contract, as they are bound by public procurement.

A spokesperson for Veolia was unavailable for comment on the issue.

 

April 24, 2009
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