Veolia is a French multinational which came to the attention of Palestinian solidarity activists in 2003 when the company won a $500 million contract to build and maintain a light railway that will run across the city of Jerusalem, including occupied East Jerusalem and the illegal settlement in the West Bank.
Veolia started operating the tramway in August 2011.
The light railway project violates international law, not only because it is built on occupied Palestinian land, but also because it is an extension of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise and the Apartheid Wall.
Veolia Transport is a leading partner in the CityPass consortium, contracted to build the light rail tramway system linking west Jerusalem to illegal Jewish settlements in occupied east Jerusalem. This rail system is cementing Israel’s hold on occupied east Jerusalem and ties the illegal settlements even more firmly into the State of Israel. This clearly creates the necessary infrastructure for further colonial expansion into the West Bank.
Promoting the project in 2005, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon stated, “This [light rail] should be done … to strengthen Jerusalem, construct it, expand it and sustain it for eternity as the capital of the Jewish people and the united capital of the state of Israel.”
And what other illegal activities are they up to?
Whatever may be the true situation Veolia are still deeply involved in illegal activities in the oPt as the company also run 7 bus services (up from 2 a few years ago), and a landfill in the occupied territories of Palestine. More recently Veolia have begun to treat sewage waste from the illegal settlement of Modi’in Illit in the oPt. All of these projects contribute to war crimes, as defined by the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
See Veolia’s illegal activities for a more indepth look at this unethical company.
Veolia: The French Connection
Who are Veolia and why have they become the target of the global Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign?
Veolia are a French based transnational company involved in water, waste management, energy and transport across the globe. The company is divided into a number of subsidiaries: Veolia Transport or Connex, Veolia Environmental Services, Onyx or Cleanaway, Veolia Water, and TMM.
In March 2011 the Veolia Transport Division of Veolia Environnement (the parent company) merged with Transdev to form Veolia Transdev, 50% owned by Veolia Environnment which maintains effective control as the CEO/Chairman of Veolia Environnement is also the Chairman of Veolia Transdev. Veolia Transdev is responsible for Veolia Transport Israel’s Jerusalem Tramway and bus operations, and also for the Veolia transport operations in Ireland and elsewhere in the world
Transdev was a subsidiary of the French Caisse des Dépôts (CDC), a public investment authority that manages public funds and is overseen by the French parliament. The CDC is now a 50 percent partner in the newly created Veolia Transdev transport company.
Even before its partial ownership of Veolia Transdev, CDC was involved in the light rail project through its subsidiary Egis Rail, which won a contract in 2008 to assist with managing the project. The current role of Egis Rail is unclear.
While many European governments are seeking to ensure that public enterprises and institutions are not complicit with Israeli violations of international law the French government has gone the opposite direction by choosing to bring Veolia Transdev under the protection of the state.
Despite the merger, however, all is not well with Veolia as the company has lost more than 50 percent of its share value since March 2011. Veolia is hemorrhaging contracts as a result of the combination of the both the global economic crisis and the intensifying global Boycott Divestment Sanction campaign.
Veolia: The Irish Connection
Veolia has extensive public and private water and energy services across Ireland. It runs the Luas in Dublin, and last year was unsuccessful in its bid for the lucrative E4.6bn Metro North. However, Veolia may now get in the back door through its recent merger with the French company Transdev, part of Metro Express consortium, one of two groups short listed for the Metro North. It is continuing to expand it operations in Ireland.
See What you can do to help call Veolia to account.
The global Derail Veolia Campaign
Veolia has come under increasing international pressure from civil society across the globe to withdraw from its illegal operations in occupied Palestine.
The Derail Veolia/Alstom campaign was launched in Bilbao,Spainin November 2008 because of its involvement in the Jerusalem light rail project being illegally built in Israeli-occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem. Across the globe solidarity organizations are building awareness of Veolia’s illegal activities and the company has come under considerable economic and moral pressure to divest from Israel.
In February 2009 Veolia lost a 3.5 billion Euro contract to run the Stockholm metro. In June, in Australia, Veolia failed to renew their contract for Melbourne’s train system. Across the UK more than a dozen local authorities are being challenged to exclude Veolia.
see Boycott works! for how the global Boycott Divestment Sanction campaign has impacted on Veolia
A growing number of international civil society organisations support the Palestinian call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel.
In response to the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society and the 2009 Kairos Palestine document from Palestinian Christian leaders to boycott and divest from companies supporting the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the Holy Land Awareness and Action, a Task Group of the Social Justice and World Affairs Committee of the South West Presbytery of the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada included Veolia in their divestment list. (http://occupiedwithpeace.org/take-action/boycott-divest-sanction/).
Many organisations from within Israel that support the campaign to cut all ties with Veolia, until it stops its complicity in Israel’s war crimes and violations of international and human rights law. Unfortunately recent legislative changes in Israel now makes it illegal for Israeli groups to call for boycott.
The Derail Veolia Campaign in Ireland
The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and other solidarity groups in Ireland have been actively campaigning to raise awareness about Veolia’s complicity in the illegal occupation of Palestine. This campaign has resulted in several local authority councils taking an important stand against Veolia, due to their collaboration with Israel, by passing motions condemning Israel’s violations of international laws and asking the City or County Managers not to renew or grant any new contracts with Veolia. The councils to date include Sligo, Galway, Castlebar, Dublin, Donegal, Fingal and Cork.
Through local branches of the IPSC we are working with local councilors countrywide raise motions in their local councils to ensure that Veolia is not granted any further contracts inIreland.
We are also stepping up pressure on the Rail Procurement Agency, which is responsible for awarding the lucrative Metro North contract. To date the RPA have indicated that based on what they know about the JLR and ‘the current status of proceedings being brought against participants in the project that they cannot see any a reasonable basis for excluding participants from a tender for the RPA contract’ *.
The IPSC are also working in collaboration with The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC) to strengthen our campaign. A legal team has been engaged to review EU and national public procurement law particularly in relation to Article 45 of Directive 2004/18/EC12 which allows for excluding companies from bidding for public contracts if they have “committed an act of grave misconduct in the course of its business”#. The outcome of this advice will be to enable the IPSC provide clear legal advice to local councils on why companies such as Veolia must be excluded.
No longer will county managers or the RPA be able to hide behind erroneous interpretation of EU public procurement directives stating that they have no option but to award the contract to the most economically advantageous operator. If they persist then legal action could be the next move.
See What you can do for for details of who to write to or how to bring the campaign to your area to highlight Veolias illegal activities
* Letter from Frank Allan Chief Executive of the RPA to IPSC, June 17 2010