too fucked up

France’s Alstom quits settler railway, Israeli partners say
Ali Abunimah, Electronid Intifada, May 13 2019

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. the letter states:

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. 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. 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:

Trade and business in or benefiting the settlements entails legal and economic risks tied to the fact that under international law, Israeli settlements 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. News of Alstom’s planned withdrawal comes just days after EI revealed that a rival consortium led by Canadian engineering giant Bombardier had also quit the tender. Bombardier pulled out after Macquarie, the Australian investment fund, withdrew its support from the consortium. Another consortium which includes Germany’s Siemens also dropped out of the competition for the massive contract, citing risks related to Israel’s occupation. This means that the number of consortiums likely to take part has dwindled from an initial eight to no more than two to four, according to Israeli business publication Calcalist. But even that may be optimistic, as the remaining bidders face a host of problems. A consortium bringing together Israeli firm Shafir and Spanish train maker CAF is hampered by the fact that the Spanish firm’s official workers council has voted against participation in the settlement project. The bid from a Greek-led consortium including contractor GEK Terna and state-owned Athens transit company STASY is also in doubt over financing problems. Calcalist also says that other bidders include Chinese firms operating in Iran, and adds:

This could pose a problem against the background of the sanctions imposed by the Pindo government on Iran, and the Pindo criticism of Chinese companies operating in Israel.

One of the consortia still in the running includes Chinese train-maker CRRC, which is developing Iran’s high-speed rail network, and recently dismissed concerns that tightened Pindo sanctions on Iran would affect its work in that country. Pindostan has been exerting pressure on Israel to limit Chinese investments in the country, ostensibly over security and espionage fears. Currently the Jerusalem light rail operates a single line, the Red Line. Under the new project, the Red Line will be extended to penetrate deeper into the occupied West Bank, connecting the settlements of Pisgat Zeev and Neve Yaakov, which are part of the ring of colonies Israel is building to isolate Palestinians in Jerusalem from those in the rest of the occupied West Bank. The entirely new Green Line is planned to run from Mount Scopus in occupied East Jerusalem to the settlement of Gilo, south-west of Jerusalem. Alstom has until now been willingly complicit in this project, a key part of Israel’s efforts to entrench and expand its colonization of Palestinian land. The monitoring group Who Profits states:

Alstom makes the railroad cars for the existing light rail line, and its wholly-owned subsidiary Citadis Israel has the contract for maintenance for 22 years. In 2013, Alstom sold its 20% stake in CityPass, the consortium that currently operates the tramway, to an Israeli buyer. However, Alstom, along with the Ashtrom Group, remains the engineering and construction contractor for the project.

In 2015, after a years-long campaign by human rights activists, French firm Veolia also sold its stake in CityPass. That Alstom is now reconsidering any further involvement in the Jerusalem light rail shows the impact of the growing legal and human rights consensus that doing business with Israel’s settlements involves unavoidable complicity in major human rights abuses, including war crimes, and that such trade should be banned. Palestinian campaigners certainly see it that way. The BNC said on Sunday:

Alstom’s exit would be a major victory for human rights activists in France, Palestine and several other countries where BDS campaigns have denied the company lucrative contracts and hurt its reputation. Pressure on Alstom must continue until it confirms its withdrawal from the project. Palestinian victims of the Jerusalem light rail, like all other Israeli projects that violate international law, are entitled to reparations for damages incurred to their livelihoods and property. Corporate involvement in the crimes of Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people is not just morally reprehensible and a legal liability. It hurts business too.

Alstom spoxes have not responded to requests for comment.

3 Comments

  1. natasha
    Posted May 14, 2019 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    As of today the light rail reaches several distant Arab villages. Shufat or Ramat Shlomo in Hebrew and guess what, Arabs use it all the time on ‘so called’ occupied area. But one caveat, they can’t help themselves from defacing the trains at the end of the line which is an Arab village. So since Islam considers itself the ‘final Orthodoxy’ who would like to have a theocracy/caliphate all those who don’t convert are ‘dhimmis’ or 2nd class citizens and until conversion they are kafir, infidels. Taking this into consideration one should take the books and lectures of Douglass Murray quite seriously.

  2. niqnaq
    Posted May 14, 2019 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    You don’t get it, Natasha. But welcome to the comely club of crypto jewish entrants!

  3. natasha
    Posted May 14, 2019 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    It’s very simple-it’s mostly about money and jealousy thereof.

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