Holy Land: Veolia responds to J&P critics

Jerusalem today

Jerusalem today

Last Wednesday we published a statement from the Justice and Peace Commission, urging London boroughs to stop dealing with the French firm Veolia, because of their involvement with illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank. (The UN and many world leaders have asked the Israelis to stop building the settlements - several of which have meant the destruction of Palestinian homes and farms near Bethlehem.) See: J&P Commission urges London boroughs to stop dealing with Veolia www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=18837

Veollia has sent us this response to the article in which they deny any wrongdoing.

A Veolia Environmental Services' spokesperson said: “Across the group, our goal in providing operational services within our water, waste, energy and transport divisions is to aid communities with social and economic development and improve access to vital infrastructure.  

“The group has signed the UN Global Compact and has undertaken many projects with the UN and its related organisations including UNICEF, UNITAR, UNESCO and UN Habitat.

”The Jerusalem Light Railway project was procured following the Oslo Peace accord and in the context of a very real prospect of significantly improving the freedom and ease of movement of the local population regardless of creed, race or ethnic origin.  Our involvement is not contrary to International Law and indeed recently a court in France specifically ruled that no breach of International or French law had been made.

“Following an agreement with the Israeli company, Egged in 2010, Veolia Transport has sold its entire interest in this project conditional on a number of consents. Some technical assistance by way of consultancy will be provided following transfer to o enable a smooth delivery of service. Similarly in June 2011, the Tovlan landfill which served the entire area population was transferred to Moshav Masoa and we no longer have any interest in this facility.

“Our sustainable approach in Israel and elsewhere is to ensure that all projects comply properly with recognised international legal requirements and our own corporate ethics policies.

A J&P spokesperson commented:

* "It is significant that Veolia does not mention its Apartheid bus services, Connex 109 and 110, that not only connect illegal West Bank settlements to Israel but also discriminate against Palestinians living in the West Bank."

* "Despite the bus routes going through the West Bank, there is only one short stretch of five kilometres that West Bank Palestinians might possibly be able to use, more likely they can't use any of the route.  Veolia tries to avoid mentioning these bus services, and when it does, has in the past falsely denied they serve settlements or that they discriminate against Palestinians."

* "Veolia's complicity in Israel's violations of international law through its support to settlements violates its obligations under the UN Global Compact too, further aggravating its grave misconduct."

* "The charge against Veolia is that it is complicit in Israel's breaches of international law."  

* "Its support to illegal settlements may also itself be a violation of international law, but aiding and abetting war crimes is quite nasty enough to constitute grave misconduct."

* "The Egged deal has not yet gone through and Veolia is presently operating the tramway without any involvement of Egged.  Even if it does go through, Veolia will remain involved in, and will profit from, running the tramway through its contract providing Egged with technical support.  Veolia has stated that it is trying to sell its shares to Egged for commercial reasons, not in order to terminate its complicity in violations of international law.

* "As usual Veolia fails to mention that Moshav Masoa is an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied Jordan valley.  Through the sale of its operating rights to this settlement Veolia is setting its support for illegal settlements in stone.  Sources in Israel tell us that post June 2011 the sale had not yet been approved by the relevant Israeli Environmental Agency and permission could well be refused.  So much for Veolia's corporate ethics policy."

Tags: J26P, Jerusalem Light railway, Veolia

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