The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has had great success in London. After one year of campaigning by activists, the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) had decided to drop the bid from the company Veolia for the one billion pound “Waste Treatment Infrastructure.”
A local London newspaper, the Wimbledon Guardian, reported Thursday (7 April) that only two bidders remain in the race for the contract – neither of which are Veolia.
In a PSC statement, Samrina Mir (Merton PSC) and Ben Jamal (Chair, Richmond & Kingston PSC) said: “This is a significant victory for the Bin Veolia campaign, made possible by the joint efforts of local human rights campaigners from Croydon & Sutton Green Party, Sutton for Peace and Justice, Kingston Peace/CND, Kingston University Palestine Society, War on Want, faith groups, trade unions and many others from across the four London boroughs, to hold Veolia accountable for its violations of international law and its involvement in profiting from the occupation.”
Veolia is a French-based multinational that employs 72,000 workers worldwide. In 2003, Veolia won a $500 million contract to build and maintain the Jerusalem Light Rail project, set to open this year. The tram project runs across the city of Jerusalem, including through occupied East Jerusalem. The line runs from the largest Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem, Pisgat Ze’ev, to Beit Hakerem in west-central Jerusalem. The rail system, in full operation, will further strengthen Israel’s hold on occupied East Jerusalem and tie the city’s settlements even more firmly into the state of Israel.
Ben Soffa, Secretary of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, responded to the success of Veolia’s loss of the London bid saying: “Local activists and PSC branches organised a really vocal campaign to oppose awarding this contract to a company that is complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation. This is just the latest in a series of setbacks for Veolia, which has failed to win a string of other public contracts in France, England, Wales, Ireland and Australia, at a cost totalling billions of Euros.”
Most recently a Palestine solidarity group claimed success when the Edinburgh Council rejected an attempt by the controversial firm to take over a range of public services in the city. Veolia had been shortlisted to take over environmental services contracts, including refuse collection and street cleaning, but a Council report published in December 2010 indicated that the firm was no longer being considered.
“Companies that are complicit in Israel’s crimes are feeling the impact – only last week, another company attempting to profit from Israel’s occupation, Ahava, announced that its flagship store in Covent Garden, London was closing down. The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is growing, and will continue until Palestinians have freedom, peace and justice,” Soffa said in London.
Veolia has received such strong international criticism for its involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail project that in October 2010 the company signed a principled agreement to sell its shares in the Jerusalem Light Rail to the Israeli transportation cooperative Egged, once full service begins.
The tramway was even condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Council which stated: “The Israeli decision to establish and operate a tramway between West Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev, is in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions.”