Jerusalem – Ma’an – The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) has successfully exerted pressure on an Irish transport organisation, Veolia, leading them to cancel a contract to train Israeli drivers for a light railway system in East Jerusalem. The railway system will link several Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem to West Jerusalem; the settlements include Pisgat Ze’ev, French Hill, Neve Ya’akov and Gilo.
Veolia is a constituent of Connex, the rail company that is currently building the tramline in East Jerusalem. Connex was awarded the $500 million US contract to build and operate Jerusalem’s light rail system.
Israel had been holding negotiations with Veolia to train Israeli engineers and drivers on the Dublin Luas tramline system. But Irish trade union representatives, in response to the IPSC, exerted pressure on Veolia to withdraw from the proposed project.
British charity, War on Want, reported an IPSC spokesperson as saying that: “This is a small but significant victory for the Palestinian right to self-determination. This tramline, like the Apartheid Wall, is an integral component of Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem. You would expect a tramline to be fairly innocuous, but the lesson is no: when you do business with Israel, you invariably do business with the Occupation. Veolia clearly understand that there is a growing awareness of this within Irish society. People are realising that diplomacy has utterly failed to curb Israeli crimes. We must cut ties with Israel in order to force it to end its Occupation,”
The spokesperson further stated, “Veolia’s position, however, is extraordinary. In cancelling this contract, Veolia acknowledge that the Israeli line is illegal and unsupportable. Yet it is they who are building it! The hypocrisy is inexcusable, and their attempts to deny that they bowed to pressure are laughable. Since the Minister for Transport and the Railway Procurement Agency have ultimate control over who runs the Luas, the IPSC now calls on Martin Cullen and the RPA to cancel Veolia’s contract unless they cease building this illegal tramline on occupied Palestinian territory.”
The IPSC concluded by stating that: “If human rights groups and Palestinian solidarity campaigns can ensure that no country will train Israeli engineers and drivers, then perhaps we can help to ‘derail’ this criminal project entirely.”