Posted by: Lister | June 12, 2009

Veolia Getting out of Israeli project

From Haaretz (Via JSF):

In a body-blow to the future Jerusalem light rail, the French company Veolia, which was supposed to run the train system after its construction, is abandoning the project.

[…] Veolia has had to contend not only with the delays and difficulties in building the light rail project itself, but with political pressure at home as well. Two months ago a French court heard a lawsuit by a pro-Palestinian group, demanding that the light rail project be halted.

The organization based itself on an article in French law that allows the court to void business agreements, signed by French companies, that violate international law.

The political pressure on Veolia has been mounting in another direction. According to various reports abroad, the French firm had been losing major projects in Europe because of its involvement in the Jerusalem job. Observers claim that’s the real reason Veolia opted out.

There’s another French company working on a Saudi project, too:

Palestinian officials have intensified diplomatic efforts to persuade Saudi Arabia to withdraw a multibillion dollar rail contract awarded to a firm alleged to be complicit in Israel’s expansion in Occupied East Jerusalem, Gulf News has learnt.

[…] The light rail project will link Occupied West Jerusalem to Occupied East Jerusalem and Jewish colonies in the Occupied West Bank when completed.

It has been described by Israeli leaders as the fulfillment of the Zionist dream and will be partly built by the French firm Alstom.

Alstom is part of a consortium awarded a $1.8 billion (Dh6.6 billion) civil works contract in March for the Makkah-Madinah railway, the Haramain Express.

[…] Alstom, Alstom Transport and Veolia are also facing a lawsuit in France for their involvement in the Occupied Jerusalem project, brought by French advocacy group Association France-Palestine Solidarité, which is working closely with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s (PLO) representative office in Paris.

[…] The Dutch ASN Bank decided in 2006 to exclude Veolia from its investment portfolios, and the Swedish national pension fund AP7 has blacklisted Alstom from its $15 billion (Dh55 billion) portfolio, according to media reports.

[…] Alstom and Veolia have won contracts worth billions in all six Gulf Cooperation Council states.

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Responses

  1. Not sure on the timing of this, because Veolia has already announced is it getting out of Jerusalem projects.

    Tehran drops Veolia:

    Veolia and Alstom are both active in Iran. The Tehran Municipality and Veolia had agreed to collaborate on the implementation of some projects concerning the environment and the development of the urban transport system. Alstom has a headquarters in Tehran and received a number of large contracts, including a 192 million euro contract with Iran’s state railways in 1999 and a larger 375 million euro contract to supply 50 turbo compressors to Iran in 2002.

    In April, representatives from the BNC called on Iran to back up it’s rhetorical support for the Palestinian cause by acting on the BDS call and taking “the necessary steps to ban Veolia and Alstom and their subsidiaries from any contracts and operations in the country.”

    This demand did not go unheeded. The Islamic Human Rights Commission sent out a call in Iran, rallying students to write to Tehran’s Mayor Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, pressure him over Veolia’s role in developing the city’s transport system. IHRC also contacted Ghalibaf directly over the matter. After a week’s time, Ghalibaf announced the city’s decision to cancel Veolia’s involvement in the Tehran transport project.

    (Via JSF).

  2. Just some background details from wiki:

    Veolia has been contracted to build a rail line from Mt. Herzl in the West of Jerusalem to a series of the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. This line, which is intended for the use of these settlers, will cut through Palestinian regions without stops. In November 2006, ASN, a Dutch bank, broke off financial relations with Veolia on account of the light rail contract.


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