[News] Australian, Canadian firms pull out of Israeli settler railway
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu May 9 10:18:03 EDT 2019
Australian, Canadian firms pull out of Israeli settler railway
Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 8
The Electronic Intifada can exclusively reveal that Canadian engineering
giant Bombardier <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/bombardier> has
pulled out of a bid to expand and operate an Israeli tramway linking
settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Bombardier is one of several global firms – two others being Australia’s
Macquarie and Germany’s Siemens – to drop out of the tender to build the
next phase of the Jerusalem light rail
The light rail system links settlements to each other and to Jerusalem,
helping to entrench and facilitate Israel’s colonial expansion in the
occupied territory – a war crime
The tramway is a symbol of oppression
Last month Israeli business publication /Globes/ reported
that investment fund Macquarie was withdrawing its support from the
bidding consortium that includes Bombardier and Austrian company Wiener
According to /Globes/, the consortium was “looking for an investment
fund to replace Australian fund Macquarie.”
However, a spokesperson for Macquarie confirmed to The Electronic
Intifada on Wednesday that not only had the Australian financier
withdrawn, but the entire consortium spearheaded by Bombardier had
pulled out altogether.
A request for comment has been sent to Bombardier.
Last year, FIDH, a prominent international human rights organization,
it had received a commitment from the French public firm Systra that it
was pulling out of the light rail tender.
FIDH noted at the time that the railway is “a tool of Israel’s
settlement policy and of its annexation of Jerusalem, in complete
violation of international law.”
After sustained pressure from human rights campaigners, the French
infrastructure multinational Veolia in 2015 sold its stake
in CityPass, the consortium that operates the existing light rail line.
German firm withdraws
Now CityPass itself is following Veolia to the exit.
The CityPass consortium, which includes
Germany’s Siemens, notified
the Israeli government that it is pulling out of the tender to expand
and run the Jerusalem light rail’s existing Red Line and to build and
operate the new Green Line.
The Red line will be extended to penetrate deeper into the occupied West
Bank, connecting the settlements of Pisgat Zeev
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/pisgat-zeev> and Neve Yaakov, which
are part of the ring of colonies Israel is building to isolate
Palestinians in Jerusalem from those in the rest of the occupied West Bank.
The Green Line will run from Mount Scopus in occupied East Jerusalem to
the settlement of Gilo <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/gilo>,
southwest of Jerusalem.
/The Times of Israel/ made clear
that the consortium’s exit was related to risks stemming from Israel’s
prolonged military occupation.
According to the Israeli publication, CityPass “pointed to a long string
of security incidents, including Palestinian terror attacks and
rock-throwing, as well as riots and protests in ultra-Orthodox areas,
that damaged and delayed trains.”
The company said that its contract “did not adequately protect it from
losses incurred during such events,” according to /The Times of Israel/.
“BDS pressure works”
Palestinian campaigners see the latest withdrawals as victories for
their efforts to hold companies complicit in Israel’s occupation and
Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator of the Palestinian Boycott,
Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), told The Electronic
Intifada, “The withdrawals from Israel’s illegal Jerusalem light rail
project of a consortium including the Canadian company Bombardier, and
of the CityPass consortium including Siemens, show again that BDS as a
form of popular pressure works.”
But companies that pull out are also merely complying with their basic
human rights obligations.
There is a growing legal
and human rights
consensus that doing business with Israel’s settlements involves
in major human rights abuses, including war crimes
and that such trade should be banned
We are calling on states to ban settlement goods and prevent
companies from operating in #Israel
settlements. https://t.co/UlgyvHzP61 pic.twitter.com/Zdszc2zOQy
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) June 7, 2017
Businesses facilitate growth of Israeli settlements & their abuses.
Time to stop. https://t.co/9pCBfVimQy pic.twitter.com/sYfryrm4Wq
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) January 19, 2016
While the exits of Macquarie, Bombardier and Siemens will be welcome
news to those campaigning for Palestinian rights, three consortiums are
on the project and they include several global firms apparently still
willing to profit from Israel’s crimes.
One consortium, according
to /Globes/ joins together the Israeli infrastructure company Electra
France-based <https://www.alstom.com/company/corporate-governance> train
manufacturer Alstom, and Moventia <https://www.moventia.es/en/history>,
the firm that runs public transport in Barcelona.
The second consortium includes Spanish train maker CAF, whose official
workers council has voted against
participation in the project. But according to Globes, that consortium
is still bidding.
And the third consortium still seeking to build the railway includes
settlement-builder Shikun & Binui
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/shikun-binui-ltd>, Chinese train
company CRRC and the French investment fund Meridiam
Meridiam was created with the financial backing of French bank Crédit
A fourth consortium includes
two Greek firms, infrastructure company GEK Terna, and state-owned
Athens metro operator STASY.
But in a potentially worrying development from Israel’s perspective,
/Globes/ notes that the “intentions” of the Greek-led consortium are
The Greek government has given its backing to the bid, but lawmakers
from Greece’s nominally left-wing ruling party Syriza, and trade unions,
have expressed strong opposition
to any Greek involvement in the settler railway.
Despite the ongoing complicity, campaigners hope that the latest rush
for the exit won’t be the last.
“Like Veolia earlier, more and more corporations realize that investing
in and enabling Israel’s violations of international law and human
rights is not only illegal and immoral, but is bad for business,” the
BNC’s Nawajaa said.
“A year after the US embassy move to Jerusalem, these companies’
withdrawals show that human rights can still trump US support for
Israeli apartheid. Pressure must continue on all companies involved in
or considering bids for tenders until they all have withdrawn from this
illegal light rail project.”
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