VEOLIA: Swansea City Council passes historic resolution to bar future contracts with Veolia 17Jun10 July 11, 2010

On Thursday June 17th 2010, Swansea City Council approved the following resolution:

“The UN not only does not recognise Israel’ s annexation and occupation of East Jerusalem, but has repeatedly stated its view that the Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank contravene international law, and it has demanded that Israeli settlement activities and occupation should not be supported. The international trading company, Veolia, is a leading partner in a consortium seeking to build a light railway system linking Israel to illegal settlements in occupied East Jerusalem, a project that clearly not only contravenes UN demands but is in contravention of international law.

This Council therefore calls on the Leader & Chief Executive not to sign or allow to be signed any new contracts or renewal of any existing contracts with Veolia or any other company in breach of international law, so long as to do so would not be in breach of any relevant legislation.”

Veolia currently has contracts with the authority for local bus, park & ride to the tune of £699k per annum and home school to the tune of £238k per annum.

The passing of the resolution was very important in its own right, but we have since dicovered that this is the first resolution of its kind to have been passed by any UK authority, in that it makes explicit its reasons for ruling out any future contracts with Veolia. Other authorities have discontinued contracts with Veolia, but have not specified this reason. Swansea City Council is therefore leading the way with what is now seen as a landmark decision.

The resolution was put to the Council as the result of a campaign, in the course of which, all 72 councillors were mailed with details of Veolia’s illegal activities. We were gratified with the level of cross part support for some kind of action to be taken and have since been in regular contact with councillors from nearly all parties who are actively pursuing the issue.

Swansea now leads a growing number of cities ready to take a moral stand against international lawbreakers. The list already includes Dublin, Stockholm and Melbourne and within the UK moves are already being made which would mean that other authorities follow Swansea’s example.

Veolia Background Information

The Veolia parent company is Veolia Environnement, a French multinational. Veolia Transport, a subsidiary of Veolia Environnement, is a leading partner in the CityPass consortium, contracted to build a light-rail tramway linking west Jerusalem to illegal Jewish settlements in occupied east Jerusalem .  Once built, the rail system will cement Israel’s hold on occupied east Jerusalem and tie the settlements even more firmly into the State of Israel.  And not only the settlements in east Jerusalem: the “Ammunition Hill” station of the network will operate as the feeder station for settler traffic from Ma’aleh Adumim, a large Israeli settlement in the West Bank, and from Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley.

The line is due to open in 2011, with Veolia responsible for the operation.
With its involvement in this project, the company is directly implicated in maintaining illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory and is playing a key role in Israel’s attempt to make its annexation of the Palestinian territory of east Jerusalem irreversible.  Further, as a willing agent of these policies, Veolia is undermining the chances of a just peace for the Palestinian people.

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the annexation of East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.
Numerous UN resolutions and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall have confirmed this.  The settlements violate Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention: “…The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” as well as Article 53 forbidding destruction of property.  In some cases in East Jerusalem these violations amount to war crimes, i.e. “grave breaches” of the Convention (see Articles 146 and 147), as they involve extensive appropriation of Palestinian property not justified by military necessity.  These grave breaches are being facilitated by Veolia’s part in the construction and future operation of the tramway serving the settlements.   The tramway also constitutes a significant alteration of the infrastructure of the occupied Palestinian territories contrary to the Hague Regulations of 1907, Section 3, also part of international law.

Thus, through its involvement in the building and future operation of this tramway linking Israel’s illegal settlements with West Jerusalem, Veolia is facilitating Israel’s ‘grave breaches’ of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and is complicit in its perpetuation of those breaches.
In other words, Veolia is involved in aiding and abetting on-going war crimes. It is also facilitating, exacerbating, aiding and abetting Israel’s breach of the Hague Regulations.

Veolia also runs two bus
services serving the same function as the tramway: supporting and consolidating illegal settlements and tying them more closely into Israel.  These are services 109 and 110, operated by its local company Connex.  These services link the settlements of Beit Horon, Giv’at Ze’ev, Mevo Horon and Ramot Alon to Israel.  Part of the route is an Apartheid road on which Palestinians from the West Bank are forbidden to travel, even though it passes through the West Bank.  (From June 2010 this ban may be revoked,  see article in Haaretz newspaper by Tomer Zarchin and Yuval Azoulay on 31 December 2009, but as of 8-6-10 there had been no effective action to do so )

Veolia’s support for settlements does not stop there.
Through its subsidiary TMM it also operates the Tovlan landfill site in the occupied Jordan Valley which takes refuse from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Veolia’s participation in the tramway project also breaches its obligations with respect to codes of conduct and conventions such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (2000) and the UN Global Compact (2000).
The latter’s first two principles state that businesses should support and respect the protection of international human rights within their spheres of influence and make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.  Yet by supporting Israel’s illegal settlements Veolia flagrantly violates both of these provisions.

Richard Jones
Swansea Palestine Link

Garth House
2 School Road

Tel: 01792 842441

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