BDS Victory: Veolia Sells Shares in Jerusalem Light Rail
Friday, 15 October 2010 07:38 Alternative Information Center (AIC)
Veolia has signed a principled agreement to sell its shares in the Jerusalem
Light Rail to the Israeli transportation cooperative Egged, reports
TheMarker  today (15 October). This sale marks a substantial victory for
the Palestinian-led international campaign for Boycott, Divestment and
Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
According to the agreement, Veolia will receive NIS 45 million
(approximately EURO 9 million) for its shares, which will be gradually
transferred to Egged over a five year period from the first day of the light
rail's operation. This gradual transfer ensures compliance with conditions
of the initial tender, which mandate that the light rail operator must have
a minimum of five years experience in operations. Egged will also pay
increasing percentages of the sale as the light rail becomes increasingly
The EUR 9 million to be received by Veolia is miniscule compared to the
almost EUR 5 billion of contracts that Veolia has lost around the world due
to the BDS movement in the past two years, most prominently a EUR 3 billion
tender in Sweden.
Finalisation of the sale requires confirmation of various Israeli
authorities and the other partners in the light rail. The biggest threat to
finalization of the sale, however, was liable to come from Israel's
anti-trust laws, as this sale would make Egged the monopoly holder of public
transportation in Jerusalem. It seems probable, however, that the Israeli
Anti-Trust Authority signaled it would approve the sale, most likely due to
Israeli concern over the detrimental impact of the BDS campaign on the
rail's burgeoning costs and never-ending delays.
Veolia has been a target  of the Palestinian-led international campaign
for Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) against Israel until the latter
recognizes Palestinian human and national rights and fulfills its
obligations under international law. Veolia has been trying to find a buyer
for two years already, as a result of the boycott pressure. This political
pressure has caused numerous delays in operation of the rail, which was
supposed to begin functioning in 2008 and now will not begin before 2011.
<http://www.themarker.com/tmc/article.jhtml?ElementId=skira20101015_1193660>  http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/news/1391--bilbao-the-basque-country-and-spain-join-the-palestinian-campaign-for-boycott-divestment-and-sanctions-targeting-veolia
After losing billions of dollars worth of contracts, largely due to a
concerted international BDS campaign against it in many countries, Veolia is
bowing to pressure and trying again to get rid of its heavy financial burden
by signing a contract to transfer its shares in the illegal Jerusalem Light
Rail (JLR) project to an Israeli company over a five year period
by the initial legal contract with the Israeli government).
During these five years, Veolia will still be complicit in this illegal
project, and all the concerted international pressure against it in the
Derail Veolia and Alstom BDS campaign must continue until it completely
ends its complicity.
BDS works when campaigners make complicit corporations suffer in real
profits and growth prospects. Veolia learned the hard way that profiting
from Israel's war crimes (all colonial settlements are regarded as war
crimes in international law) is PROHIBITIVELY costly, and not just
Arab governments, particularly in the Gulf region, that still allow both
Alstom and Veolia to bid -- and win -- huge public contracts ought to be
ashamed of themselves, especially that Stockholm, Bordeaux, West Midlands,
Swansea, and several Irish cities, among many others, have dumped Veolia or
are in the process of doing so.