France’s Alstom quits settler railway, Israeli partners say Ali Abunimah

Israel having trouble finding global firms willing to expand Jerusalem light rail, which links its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem

Jerusalem light railway

Ali Abunimah reports in The Electronic Intifida:

Two Israeli companies sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday asking for an urgent extension of the deadline for bids to build the next phase of the Jerusalem light rail.

The Israeli firms, Dan and Electra, asked for the delay after it emerged that French train maker Alstom intends to pull out of their consortium bidding to expand the settler tramway – citing human rights concerns.

This is the latest sign of trouble for Israel’s effort to expand the tramway which links Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank to each other and to occupied East Jerusalem.

Israel’s construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank is a war crime.

Harmful to human rights

“On Friday, we received with astonishment the official position of Alstom, which in effect prevents Electra and Dan from being able to submit a bid in the tender, as the deadline is tomorrow,” the letter states.

“This position is based entirely on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the point of departure presented to Electra and Dan is that the tender and the implementation of the project are ostensibly harmful or liable to harm human rights,” the letter adds. “Moreover, Alstom claims that its participation is contrary to French law.”

France, despite its strongly pro-Israel policies, warns companies against doing business in settlements.

The French foreign ministry states that trade and business “in or benefiting the settlements entails legal and economic risks tied to the fact that Israeli settlements, under international law, are built on occupied territories and are not recognized as part of Israel.”

With the apparent collapse of the bid involving Alstom, another European firm, Barcelona transit operator Moventia, would also be forced out, because it is part of the same consortium.

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