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Public meeting: boycott Veolia, end EU stake in settlements

Public Meeting: Boycott Veolia

Excluding Complicity with Israeli War Crimes

Date: Wednesday 9th May
Time: 7pm
Place: The Venue
Address: University of London Union, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY – see map

Jeremy Corbyn MP will speak about the Veolia Early Day Motion 2717 he tabled [signed by 76 Members of Parliament) and the need for strengthening the law to ensure the cessation of EU and UK finance for illegal Israeli settlements and that economic operators, such as Veolia and G4S, aiding and abetting the building, maintenance or servicing of illegal Israeli settlements be excluded from public contracts in the EU and the UK.
Daniel Machover will speak about the legal issues involved.

London residents say public money must not be paid to a company that profits from rights abuses!

Admission Free – please invite your friends and contacts.

The Public Meeting is organised by No2VAG [currently fighting £4.7 billion contracts Veolia is targeting in north London].


Early day motion 2717

PROPOSED EU LEGISLATION ON FINANCING OF ILLEGAL ACTIVITY IN THE WEST BANK

Session: 2010-12
Date tabled: 08.02.2012
Primary sponsor: Corbyn, Jeremy
Sponsors:
Bottomley, Peter
Burden, Richard
Kaufman, Gerald
Lucas, Caroline
Williams, Mark

That this House welcomes the December 2011 Report by the EU Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah, especially the proposal for appropriate EU legislation to prevent and discourage financial transactions in support of settlement activity; notes the UN Human Rights Council declaration that the Jerusalem Light Rail extension into East Jerusalem is in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations Resolutions (Resolution 13/7 of 14 April 2010); and calls on the Government to facilitate and support effective EU legislation to ensure the cessation of EU finance for illegal Israeli settlements and that economic operators aiding and abetting the building, maintenance or servicing of illegal Israeli settlements be excluded from public contracts in the EU.


Veolia’s support for Israel’s illegal settlements
Why Boycott Veolia, BIG (Boycott Israeli Goods)

Veolia’s support for Israel’s illegal settlements
Veolia, a large French multinational, is helping to build and operate a tramway linking illegal settlements in East Jerusalem with Israel. Not only do the settlements contravene article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention forbidding an occupier transferring its own civilians into the territory it occupies, but in most cases the establishment of the Israeli settlements involved war crimes too. The tramway tightens Israel’s hold on occupied East Jerusalem, ties the settlements more firmly into Israel and undermines chances of a just peace for the Palestinian people.

In the occupied Jordan Valley Veolia has been supporting illegal settlements by taking their refuse at its Tovlan landfill site. Veolia has now compounded its offence by actually selling Tovlan to an illegal settlement, whilst maintaining an advisory role.

Veolia also operates bus services connecting illegal Israeli settlements to Israel. Palestinians were, until recently, forbidden from using the apartheid roads on which the buses travel and Palestinian use of these services is still severely restricted.

Veolia must be made to halt these activities which enable Israel to maintain and tighten its grip on the occupation. Until then, we encourage a boycott of Veolia – a firm complicit in the ongoing occupation and dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Veolia’s support for Israel’s illegal settlements

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.

Veolia’s is recruiting operators for the tramway through an advertisement requiring Hebrew to mother tongue standard, no mention of Arabic, a clear indication that the tramway is expected to be used primarily by Jewish Israelis, not Palestinians.  Full army or civic service is also required, i.e. no Palestinians.

In April 2010 the UN Human Rights Council declared the tramway and its operation to be illegal (A/HRC/RES/13/7 of 14 April 2010).  The resolution was passed 44 to 1, with the UK, France and all the EU members of the Council voting in favour.  The operation of the tramway is precisely what Veolia has a contract to do.

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 Mevo Horon, Giv’at Ze’ev and Har Shmuel to Israel.  Until recently part of the route was an Apartheid road on which Palestinians from the West Bank were forbidden to travel, even though it passes through the West Bank.  In June 2010 the ban was partially lifted to comply with an Israeli court order, but at most West Bank Palestinians can still only use the Veolia buses between two stops about 5kms apart, and quite possibly not at all.

In March 2011 the Veolia Transport Division of Veolia Environnement merged with Transdev to form Veolia Transdev.  The merged company is 50% owned by Veolia Environnement, with the Chairman/CEO of Veolia Environnement also the Chairman of Veolia Transdev.  Veolia Environnement therefore still bears very substantial responsibility for and retains effective control of Veolia Transdev’s wholly owned subsidiary Veolia Transport Israel.

Veolia Transport Israel is trying to sell its 5% stake in the CityPass Consortium and its 80% stake in the tramway operating company to the Israeli company Egged.  But part of the deal is for Veolia Transport Israel to provide Egged with technical assistance in running the tramway for 5 years, so Veolia will still be involved in and profit from the tramway operation.  Veolia says that it is selling its stakes to take advantage of a good offer rather than trying to distance itself from services to settlements.

Veolia’s support for settlements does not stop there.  Through its subsidiary TMM, Veolia Transport Israel has been operating the Tovlan landfill site in the occupied Jordan Valley for many years.  During this time Tovlan has been supporting Israel’s illegal settlements in the West Bank by taking their refuse.  There has also been a report of Tovlan receiving refuse from Israel itself, the occupier dumping its rubbish on the occupied.  Veolia says that it is selling Tovlan to a local buyer and may have already done so, but far from ending Veolia’s complicity, the deal will compound it, for the intended sale is to Massu’a, the nearby illegal Israeli settlement.  Moreover Veolia will continue its involvement by providing the settlement with advice concerning Tovlan.  Veolia’s involvement with Tovlan is not affected by the Veolia Transport/Transdev merger, for the subsidiary concerned is part of Veolia Environnement’s Environmental Services Division.

Veolia’s support for Israel’s illegal settlements 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.

Veolia is one commercial entity

It is entirely evident that Veolia treats itself as a single entity and profits and prospers as such.  This is also clear in the company’s own marketing and public corporate structure where it treats itself as a coherent whole.  As this is the case, the conduct of one division or subsidiary is the conduct of Veolia as a whole.  In short, if one subsidiary of Veolia is involved in activities of grave misconduct and profits from such conduct, then the parent company must necessarily be implicated in such misconduct and most certainly profits from such misconduct.  That, in turn, means that Veolia as a whole – all of its divisions and subsidiaries – are implicated in such misconduct.  (Detailed evidence for Veolia being one commercial entity is set out in the Annex below, suggested letter to public authorities)

The “Derail Veolia” (or “Dump Veolia”) Campaign

As Veolia is a multinational with operations in many countries, this is an international campaign.

Excluding Veolia from public contracts

As Veolia is a multinational with operations in many countries, this is an international campaign.

Under European Community regulations a company can be excluded from bidding for a public contract, or being awarded one, on the grounds of grave misconduct.  The main thrust of the Derail Veolia campaign has been to demand that public authorities (mostly city or district councils), exercise this discretion in respect of Veolia companies on the grounds that aiding and abetting war crimes amounts to grave misconduct.  The British version of the European Directive is the Public Contract Regulations (2006) [section 23(4)(e)].   Ask your local council what contracts it has with Veolia and when they terminate.  You can be sure that Veolia will try and bid for the replacement contract.  Start your campaign with the council two years or more before termination as some councils award replacement contracts quite early, and your campaign will need time to have effect.   Even if your council has no contract with Veolia, or only a long term one, you can ask for Veolia to be excluded from all future contracts until its gives up support for Israel’s illegal settlements.

Current campaigns include Veolia’s exclusion from contracts with North London Waste Authority (£4.7billio)n, West London Waste Authority, Royal Parks (Regents Park), Leeds City, Hastings/East Sussex and Stroud District.

Campaign methods include letter writing, lobbying council members, presentations/delegations at council meetings, involving the media, petitions, demonstrations, etc.   http://www.salim.org.uk/veolia-model-motions-and-letters-to-councils.html  is a model motion for Councillors to submit for adoption by their Local Authority .

Asking  companies using Veolia’s services to switch contracts to another service provider

These contracts are usually with Veolia Environmental Services for waste collection or management.  Businesses and shops using Veolia can be identified by the Veolia Environmental Services (may also be marked Onyx or Cleanaway) rubbish skips in their yards.  Some national or regional businesses with many local establishments may have one central contract with Veolia.  Public contract regulations will not apply, but companies need to consider the effect on their reputation of doing business with a company like Veolia, complicit in war crimes.

Asking  churches, mosques and other places of worship using Veolia Environmental Services for refuse collection to switch to another provider

These contracts are likely to be local ones, so this is a way local congregations can take action.  Discussion of the issue will be a good opportunity to explain the whole Israel/Palestine conflict and BDS campaign.  Christian denominations and supervisory bodies of other faiths can be contacted centrally too and asked to persuade their places of worship to take action.

Disinvestment from Veolia

Managers of pension funds, church funds and ethical investment funds can be asked not to invest in Veolia Environnement, the parent company.  Ethical investment advisory groups associated with such funds can also be contacted.  Challenge the Church of England to disinvest from Veolia Environnement!

Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition and other sponsorship

Veolia has been sponsoring the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and Exhibitions for 2009, 2010, and 2011.  See http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/temporary-exhibitions/wpy/competition/about/sponsors.jsp .   Entries are received from many countries.  The exhibitions are on for many months at the Natural History Museum in London and then go on tour in Britain and other countries.  The 2011 exhibition opened in London in October 2011 and is expected to  continue until March 2012.  The exhibition presents an opportunity to protest against Veolia’s support for Israel’s illegal settlements and against the choice of a company complicit in war crimes as a sponsor.  Two well supported demonstrations were held in 2010.  The latter included an imaginative “alternative exhibition” of photos of the occupation, etc.

The French Court Case

This was one of the earliest initiatives.  Veolia Environnement (and Alstom, which as a member of the City Pass consortium has built the tramcars for the Jerusalem light rail transit) were taken to court by the French NGO AFPS.  AFPS lost the case but is appealing.  A win would have been a boost to the Dump Veolia campaign, but AFPS’s losing does not undermine our campaign, which has a different legal basis. Daniel Machover and Adri Nieuwhof have commented on the French verdict in http://electronicintifada.net/content/french-court-decision-jerusalem-light-rail-must-be-challenged/10115.  The central argument of the Dump Veolia campaign in UK has been that Veolia has been, and still is, complicit in Israel’s violation of international law and this complicity amounts to grave misconduct.  If Veolia had broken the law and been found guilty it would be superfluous to describe its support for Israel’s violation of international law as grave misconduct.  Our argument still holds water even if the relevant provisions of the Geneva Convention do not give rise to rights under French law to private individuals against the companies in question (Veolia and Alstom).

Writing  to the Chairpersons and Chief  Executive Officers of the Veolia Companies

Veolia Environmental Services for waste collection and management; Veolia Water for water supply; and Veolia Transport for bus and coach services (and in other countries metro and light rail transit services too).  Veloway is Veolia Transport’s subsidiary for city cycle hire schemes.

Important Campaign Successes

Edinburgh, Richmond, Portsmouth, Winchester & East Hants, South London WastePartnership and London Borough of Ealing:  Since late 2010 Veolia has lost waste management contracts with all these authorities after vigorous local campaigns for exclusion.

Tower Hamlets (London) Borough:   The council passed a motion in February 2011to review all contracts with Veolia, not to place any more contracts with the company and to terminate any relationship with Veolia.

Swansea:   In June 2010 the council passed a motion to exclude Veolia from all future contracts:  “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.”

West Midlands (UK):   After a successful local campaign, Veolia Environmental Services lost the contract for waste management with Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council.

Stockholm Metro (Sweden):   Veolia Transport had been running the Stockholm metro for many years.  In 2009 it lost the replacement contract after a high profile public campaign.  This was a big blow to Veolia as the contract was worth several billion Euro.  Veolia’s finance manager for Sweden was sacked.  Stockholm City Council did not admit that the campaign was responsible, but it was widely acknowledged that this was the case.

Melbourne Metro (Australia):   After an effective campaign, Veolia Transport failed to win the contract for the Melbourne light rail transit.  For Veolia, another big contract lost.  Again a widely acknowledged victory for the campaign, despite the City Council’s denial.  Local authorities prefer to avoid controversy and as an easy way out can claim normal commercial considerations for their decision.

Bordeaux (France): In 2009, Veolia transport lost a 750 million Euro contract for the biggest urban network in France.

Dublin City (Ireland): Earlier in 2010 Dublin City Council instructed its City Manager not to grant or renew any contracts with Veolia.

Further information at
http://www.whoprofits.org/company/veolia-environement

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