[News] Argentina suspends deal with Israeli water firm as BDS spreads southward

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Mar 17 11:53:50 EDT 2014

  $170m Argentina loss for Israeli water firm Mekorot as BDS spreads

Published on 16 March 2014 Written by Palestinian BDS National Committe

In the latest success for the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions 
(BDS <http://www.bdsmovement.net/>) movement against Israel, authorities 
in Buenos Aires have suspended a proposed $170m water treatment plant 
deal with Israeli state water firm Mekorot. The decision came after a 
campaign by local trade unions and human rights groups which connected 
Mekorot's role in Israel's theft of Palestinian water resources with 
evidence that the project did not meet Argentine standards and necessities.

Campaigners argued that Mekorot was attempting to export the 
discriminatory water policies it has developed against the Palestinian 
people to Argentina.

This victory largely contradicts Israeli claims, last expressed during 
Netanyahu's speech at the AIPAC 
that the global south, eager for Israeli technology, are uncontested 
growing markets.

Mekorot illegally appropriates Palestinian water, diverting it to 
illegal Israeli settlements and towns inside Israel, and imposes severe 
obstacles to Palestinians accessing their own water. Amnesty 
International has accused 
<http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/028/2009/en/634f6762-d603-4efb-98ba-42a02acd3f46/mde150282009en.pdf> Israel 
of depriving Palestinians of their access to water "as a means of 
expulsion". A French parliamentary report accused 
<http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ben-white/translated-french-parliament-report-israels-water-apartheid> Israel 
of imposing a system of "water apartheid 
in the occupied Palestinian territory.

The Buenos Aires provincial government approved a drinking water plant 
project deal with a consortium led by Mekorot following a visit to 
Israel by state governor Daniel Scioli in 2011, but protests and 
lobbying have persuaded local authorities to suspend the project.

The large Dutch water utility Vitens suspended 
<http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/dutch-water-company-terminates-relationship-mekerot-government-advice-11502#_ftn1> a 
cooperation agreement with Mekorot on the grounds that the relationship 
violated its "commitment to international law" in a high profile 
announcement in December.

"After investigating, we concluded that Mekorot came to Argentina with 
the intention to repeat what they are doing in Palestine. Water is a 
right for all and no company should be able to provide water in a 
discriminatory way," said Adolfo, an engineer and a representative of 
the CTA/ ATE Hidráulica trade union in Buenos Aires that campaigned 
against the Mekorot plant.

"We fought in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for justice, 
liberation and return and we won a battle not only against Israeli 
crimes against the Palestinian people but as well for the right to water 
here in Argentina," said Tilda Rabi, president of the Federation of 
Palestinian-Argentinian Organisations.

Campaigners understand that the decision was made in December 2013 but 
were only able to verify the news on March 7.

Friends of the Earth Palestine and a range of BDS partners are calling 
for a week of action 
against Mekorot during the last week of March.

Campaigners are viewing the Buenos Aires decision as the latest sign 
that the international BDS movement is increasingly isolating Israel and 
having serious economic impacts on its regime of occupation, colonialism 
and apartheid.

On Thursday, students at the National University of Galway in Ireland 
<http://www.ipsc.ie/press-releases/victory-in-galway-as-nuig-students-union-votes-to-join-bds-movement> to 
endorse BDS in a campus-wide ballot, following on from a similar 
referendum success for BDS activists at the University of Windsor in 
Canada. National and local student unions across Europe and North 
America have now voted to support BDS-related measures.

Israeli media reports 
<http://www.bdsmovement.net/2014/boycott-fears-cause-two-foreign-bidders-to-drop-out-of-ports-tender-11822> attributed 
the recent withdrawal of two leading European construction firms from 
the bid to build seaports in Israel to boycott fears, and a third firm 
only agreed to go ahead with similar plans after being allowed to submit 
a bid under a different name.

It emerged last month that Luxembourg's state pension fund has excluded 
<http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/luxembourg-pension-fund-dumps-9-israeli-firms-over-settlements> nine 
Israeli banks and firms over their role in illegal Israeli settlements, 
following on from similar decisions in recent months by public pension 
funds in Norway 
<http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/norway-pension-fund-bans-israeli-occupation-profiteers-after-lies-exposed> and 
the Netherlands <http://electronicintifada.net/tags/pggm> and Danske 
Bank <http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.571849>, Denmark's 
largest bank.

A recent solidarity conference organized by South African members of 
parliament and civil society groups issued the Cape Town Declaration 
<http://mediareviewnet.com/2014/02/the-cape-town-declaration/> endorsing 
BDS and accusing Israel of the crime of apartheid.

The Norwegian branch of the YMCA-YWCA movement recently announced 
<http://www.kfuk-kfum-global.no/Free+Palestine.+Just+Peace+for+Israel+and+Palestine.b7C_wljS2d.ips> its 
support for an economic boycott of Israel.

"Israel's attempts to smear the BDS movement are failing; Israel is 
increasingly being isolated as people of conscience around the world 
take action to support Palestinian rights and as investors realize that 
there are serious economic and reputational risks associated with doing 
business with Israel," said Zaid Shuaibi, a spokesperson for the 
Palestinian BDS National Committee, the largest Palestinian civil 
society coalition that leads the global BDS movement.

"Boycott is becoming an increasingly powerful and empowering way for 
ordinary people to support Palestinians in their struggle to end the 
occupation and Israel's apartheid policies and for the right of 
Palestinian refugees to  return to their homes," he added.

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