Israele ha difficoltà a trovare aziende internazionali disposte ad espandere la ferrovia leggera di Gerusalemme, che collega i suoi insediamenti illegali nella Cisgiordania occupata a Gerusalemme. (OzinOH) English version di Ali Abunimah, 13 maggio 2019 Due compagnie israeliane hanno inviato domenica una lettera al primo ministro Benjamin Netanyahu chiedendo una proroga urgente della scadenza per…
- BDS campaign has cost Veolia billions of dollars in lost contracts
- But Veolia remains involved in Jerusalem Light Rail, boycott campaign set to continue
Palestinian civil society activists have heralded the decision by French corporate giant Veolia to sell off nearly all of its business activity in Israel as a huge victory for the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The sale follows a worldwide campaign against the company’s role in illegal Israeli settlements that cost the firm billions of dollars of lost contracts.
The boycott Veolia campaign was launched in Bilbao, the Basque Country, in November 2008, to pressure the company to end its involvement in illegal Israeli projects that serve settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).
Under BDS pressure, Veolia has failed to win massive contracts with local authorities across Europe, the US and Kuwait. City councils across Europe have passed resolutions excluding the firm from tenders due to its involvement in Israeli human rights violations.
Veolia has now reported that the sale of its water, waste and energy contracts to Oaktree Capital, a Los Angles based investment firm, has been completed, leaving its stake in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail as its only business interest in Israel.
Mahmoud Nawajaa, the general coordinator of the Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), a broad Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the global BDS movement, said:
“Grassroots BDS activism across the world made it very difficult for Veolia to win public contracts in some parts of Europe, the US and the Middle East, leaving the company no choice but to significantly scale back its involvement in illegal Israeli projects.”
“The BDS movement is showing that there is a price to pay for participating in Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land. One of Europe’s biggest companies has been forced to sell its businesses in Israel that violate international law.”
Around 10 authorities in Ireland and the UK introduced official policy barring Veolia from public contracts. Councils in at least 25 cities including London, Stockholm and Boston opted not to award or renew contracts with Veolia following public campaigns that were backed by local community leaders, churches, trade unions and mainstream political parties.
Many investors including the Dutch ASN Bank and the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation have divested from Veolia over its role in Israeli settlements, while other major banks and the Swedish AP pension fund have issued public statements condemning Veolia’s role in the settlements. Several “socially responsible investment” information providers have told campaigners they have listed the firm as having serious human rights concerns.
Veolia continues to remain involved in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail that links Israeli colonies to west Jerusalem through its holdings in Veolia Transdev, but has announced its intention to sell its holding in the railway.
In 2014, Veolia stated in letters to BDS organizers that it had also “terminated its involvement in the Tovlan landfill … over three years ago.” Tovlan processes waste from Israel and its illegal settlements in the OPT. This claim was proven to be false, however, by official records obtained from the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection in September 2013, which show beyond doubt that the operator of the illegal Tovlan landfill at the time was still Veolia’s subsidiary, T.M.M. Integrated Recycling Services.
Ownership of the Tovlan site and wastewater treatment contracts for illegal Israeli settlements is now expected to transfer to Oaktree.
“By buying up these businesses, Oaktree has become an active accomplice in Israel’s ongoing violations of international law,” Nawajaa added.
Mainly due to boycott pressure on it in the US and Europe, and particularly the campaign’s focus on its “apartheid bus operations,” which served Israel’s illegal settlements, Veolia had sold its entire bus operations in Israel in 2013.
Nawajaa explained that the campaign against Veolia would continue because the firm remains a shareholder in the illegal Jerusalem Light Rail project.
“The sole purpose of the Jerusalem Light Rail is to increase the appeal and facilitate the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements through the theft of Palestinian land. We will continue to boycott Veolia until it ends its participation in the Light Rail project and pays reparations to those Palestinian communities impacted by its support for Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land. International corporations cannot simply profit from Israel’s war crimes and then leave when the going gets tough, without being held accountable,” Nawajaa added.
“We warmly thank the impressive number of principled activists and civil society organizations around the world whose dedicated and strategic efforts have made the campaign against Veolia such a success,” Nawajaa concluded.
thanks to: bdsmovement.net
Veolia, la più grande compagnia di privatizzazione di servizi idrici in Europa, sta svendendo i suoi business riguardanti la gestione dell’acqua, dei rifiuti e dell’energia in Israele, ed intende fare un passo indietro dal paese come “mercato d’affari.”
La notizia è un grande incoraggiamento per gli attivisti del movimento globale di Boicottaggio, Disinvestimento e Sanzioni (BDS), che hanno preso di mira la multinazionale francese per i suoi legami con gli insediamenti illegali israeliani e le loro relative infrastrutture nella Cisgiordania occupata. Secondo alcuni report di metà Luglio, Veolia ha deciso di vendere le sue attività in Israele a “fondi gestiti dalla Oaktree Capital Management LP,” abbassando così il debito della compagnia a 341 milioni di $. La vendita include il 50% della partecipazione della compagnia francese nell’impianto di desalinizzazione di Ashkelon.
Veolia ha descritto il disinvestimento come parte di una strategia per concentrare i propri sforzi in “opportunità a bisogno minore di capitale.” Un portavoce della compagnia ha riferito a Global Water Intelligence “che le proprietà israeliane saranno vendute come attività pienamente operative, piuttosto che come collezione di beni, e che Veolia farebbe un passo indietro da Israele come “mercato d’affari”.
La portavoce parigina di Veolia Sandrine Guendoul mi ha confermato che “il disinvestimento dovrebbe essere chiuso e completato entro la fine dell’anno,” poichè è richiesta l’approvazione “dalle autorità sulla competizione israeliane.”
Veolia rimane tuttavia complice del Consorzio City Pass che gestisce il sistema di Metropolitana Leggera di Gerusalemme (JLR), che collega Gerusalemme Ovest con gli insediamenti illegali a Gerusalemme Est e nella Cisgiordania occupata (ed è stata il bersaglio di alcuni manifestanti palestinesi arrabbiati all’inizio di quest’anno).
Partecipazione finanziaria e operativa di Veolia nel City Pass è stata precedentemente trasferita a Transdev, una joint venture 50-50 tra Veolia e Caisse des Dépôts. Guendoul mi ha riferito che Veolia “ha iniziato a disimpegnarsi completamente dall’attività di trasporto e a vendere la sua quota di Transdev “come parte di “un piano di dismissione più ampio avviato e portato avanti nel 2011”
Il coinvolgimento di Veolia nella JLR è stato oggetto di grandi proteste contro la compagnia. Gli attivisti hanno puntato la compagnia facendole perdere contratti per un valore di miliardi di dollari. Già nel 2010, un funzionario anonimo di Veolia riferì all’AFP che la JRL aveva fatto guadagnare alla compagnia “minacce di boicottaggio” e “ci ha fatto perdere importanti contratti.”
Nel 2012, l’Amministratore Delegato di Veolia Israele Arnon Fishbein ammise che “molte persone all’interno del gruppo” credevano che “la compagnia perse molti contratti a causa di questo progetto [la JLR]”. Entro la fine del 2013, Veolia aveva già venduto tutte le sue linee bus degli insediamenti, offrendo così un’ulteriore conferma del ruolo che la pressione [BDS, ndt] ha nelle decisioni della compagnia.
Gli attivisti in solidarietà con la Palestina si stanno così chiedendo se gli sviluppi di quest’estate rappresentino “l’inizio della fine” e il successo finale della campagna internazionale ‘Dump Veolia‘, che include campagne concentrate sulle autorità locali e basate sui campus universitari, così come iniziative mirate al disinvestimento.
“Grazie alle instancabile ed appassionate campagne di sindacati, chiese, ONG ed attivisti di tutto il mondo, che sono costate a Veolia miliardi di dollari, l’azienda ha chiaramente cominciato a rendersi conto che la campagna BDS contro i suoi affari in Israele crea più problemi di quanto valgano,” ha commentato Mahmoud Nawajaa, coordinatore del Comitato Nazionale Palestinese per il BDS.
Nawajaa ha sottolineato come la vendita non sia ancora stata confermata, e come con il coinvolgimento di Veolia nelle attività della JLR che rimane attivo, “la campagna contro Veolia deve continuare finchè non terminerà tutti gli aspetti del suo coinvolgimento nei progetti israeliani nei Territori Palestinesi Occupati.”
Traduzione: BDS Italia
thanks to: palestinarossa
Attivisti in solidarietà con la Palestina a St. Louis, nel Missouri, stanno festeggiando la vittoria dopo che la Veolia Water del Nord America si è ritirata da un accordo di consulenza, per il valore di 250.000 dollari, con la divisione idrica della città.
La Veolia Water del Nord America, con sede a Chicago, è una filiale della multinazionale francese Veolia per i servizi municipali. Quest’ultima è stata oggetto di proteste in tutto il mondo e di appelli al boicottaggio a causa del suo trarre profitto partecipando all’occupazione israeliana delle terre palestinesi.
A coalition of 22 European NGOs along with Richard Falk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories have in the last week released significant reports on financial links with illegal Israeli settlements.
Running into 35 pages, the report from European NGOs, titled Trading Away Peace, is the most wide-ranging report yet into the various forms of economic support for illegal Israeli settlements provided by European states and corporations.
Opening with an overview of the reality for Palestinians in the West Bank, the report highlights the inconsistency between the EU’s stated opposition to settlements and its failure to take action to halt economic activity that encourages their continued existence and expansion.
The report uses Israeli government estimates of the volume of settlement trade to estimate that the EU imports fifteen times more from the illegal settlements than from the Palestinians living in the occupied territories.
Profiling Israeli companies exporting consumer goods from settlements such as Ahava, SodaStream and Mehadrin, the report recommends that European governments “ensure correct consumer labeling of all settlement products as a minimum measure” and “as a more comprehensive option, ban imports of settlement products, as called for by Ireland.”
The report also calls for action to prevent European corporations like Veolia and G4S from providing infrastructure to illegal Israeli settlements, the inclusion of illegal Israeli settlements in EU agreements and the purchase of property in settlements by European citizens. In all, its 12 recommendations cover many of the main forms of financial support for illegal Israeli settlements.
What’s especially significant and heartening about the report is how widely it has been endorsed. The 22 signatories from 11 European countries include the APRODEV network of Christian development organizations, the International Federation for Human rights (FIdH) and national churches in Sweden and the UK.
Call for boycott
In a report presented to the UN General Assembly on 25 October, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, went even further, calling for a “boycott [of] businesses that profit from Israeli settlements.”
Advocates of the position that governments should tackle companies complicit in settlements and not just produce made in illegal settlements, including the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), point out that any business with companies exporting from or operating in settlements supports their continued growth and expansion.
“In short, businesses should not breach international humanitarian law provisions. Nor should they be complicit in any breaches. If they do, they may be subject to criminal or civil liability. And this liability can be extended to individual employees of such businesses,” Falk explained when presenting his report (download the report in full here) (extract).
The report examines 13 companies, many of which are already targeted by the BDS movement over their complicity with Israeli violations, including G4S, Mehadrin, Veolia and Caterpillar, and details their infringements of the new UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Falk recommends BDS
The implementation of the guidelines by states and businesses is one of Falk’s main recommendations. The report also states that the special rapporteur is committed to following up with the corporations listed in the report and “may continue to gather information and report on the involvement of corporations in Israel’s settlement activities.”
Making specific mention of the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, Falk urges civil society to “vigorously pursue initiatives to boycott, divest and sanction” the businesses highlighted in his report and calls on governments to “investigate the business activities of companies registered in their own respective countries… that profit from Israel’s settlements, and take appropriate action to end such practices and ensure appropriate reparation for affected Palestinians.”
Popular pressure needed
However, in a recent meeting with campaigners, a senior EU official denied reports that the EU was considering a EU-wide settlement trade ban and said that countries like France and the UK instead supported a proposal that the EU should issue new guidance ensuring the correct labeling of settlement products.
Alistair Burt, the UK government minister responsible for Middle East policy echoed that view when he said the following in response to to a question in parliament about this new Trading Away Peace report and whether the UK government would implement a ban on settlement trade:
I have seen the report and I note that one of its main recommendations is to commend the United Kingdom on its policy of voluntary labelling and to encourage other European Union countries to do the same. There is active consideration in the EU about doing just that, and we are taking part in that. So far, however, I have not seen anything that would lead us to change our policy in relation to boycotts…
Official guidance requiring the correct labeling of products from illegal settlements, as implemented by the UK, Danish and South African governments, should be seen as a welcome step towards more restrictive measures. But as Palestinian human rights organization al-Haq has argued, states are legally obliged not to provide recognition or assistance to Israeli settlements, including by ending settlement trade. Labelling alone is not sufficient – turning economic support for the colonization of Palestine into an issue of consumer choice is not an acceptable long-term proposition.
While an EU-wide ban on settlement trade may not be a realistic short term goal, it does seem possible that an individual state or group of states – Ireland, Norway or South Africa, for example – could be successfully pressured to implement such a ban.
There is also potential for more retailers to be pressured into adopting the position of the UK Co-operative supermarket, which this year announced that it would no longer deal with companies operating in illegal settlements.
Years of determined grassroots campaigning and Israel’s continued violations of international law mean that demands to end financial support for settlements are now winning unprecedented levels of support, as these two new reports demonstrate.
The challenge now for all campaigners, including supporters of a full boycott of Israel, is to build campaigns capable of pressuring governments and more retailers to take effective action against companies operating in settlements, or at least products from illegal settlements. Further victories in this area would be hugely damaging not only to Israel’s settlement regime but the entirety of its apartheid system.
thanks to: Michael Deas