'Victory' for campaigners as firm halts rail work for Israeli settlers

By agency reporter
June 9, 2009

Anti-poverty campaigners have welcomed reports that French company Veolia has abandoned the $500 million rail project linking Jerusalem and illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

War on Want hailed the news as a significant victory for campaigners who have exposed companies which are complicit in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: “The end of Veolia’s involvement is an important victory for the international campaign to win justice for the Palestinian people. It sends a clear message to other companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine that their complicity will be challenged.”

The charity’s report 'Profiting from the Occupation' exposed the role of Veolia in the rail project, in 2006.

Veolia has waste management contracts with local governments and universities across the UK.

The rail project, due for completion by 2020, will run from west Jerusalem to the major Israeli settlements of French Hill, Neve Ya’akov and Pisgat Ze’ev, with further lines to settlements such as Gilo, near Bethlehem, and Ramot.

The Israeli government has openly stated that the project will help complete the annexation of East Jerusalem.

The Veolia move comes only days after the US President Barack Obama called on Israel to cease building settlements, which, he said, violated earlier agreements and undermined peace efforts.

Next week, the UK foreign secretary David Miliband will join other ministers for talks in Brussels on European Union proposals to upgrade political and trade links with Israel.

Miliband faces heavy pressure to oppose the upgrade after Israel’s onslaught on Gaza.

War on Want has repeatedly called for an end to the EU-Israel upgrade.

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