[News] Australian, Canadian firms pull out of Israeli settler railway

Anti-Imperialist News 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 
May 2019


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 
for Palestinians.

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withdrawn, but the entire consortium spearheaded by Bombardier had 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 
colonization accountable.

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 
unavoidable complicity 
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

    Corporate complicity

While the exits of Macquarie, Bombardier and Siemens will be welcome 
news to those campaigning for Palestinian rights, three consortiums are 
still bidding 
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 
<http://www.electra-infrastructures.co.il/en/activities> with 
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.”

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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