Monday, 8 June 2009

Veolia Pulls out of Jerusalem Railway Project

In what appears to be another success for peaceful, non-violent ethical investment, Veolia, the Jerusalem rail operator has jumped ship, leaving the project to link the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'ale Adumin with Jerusalem, in tatters.

According to Haaretz, "The light rail projects for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are both facing difficulties. In a body-blow to the future Jerusalem light rail, the French company Veolia, which was supposed to run the train system after its construction, is abandoning the project.

Moving on to Tel Aviv, the city can't even get a response to the compromise it offered MTS, the consortium supposed to build an urban train system, in order to settle issues in dispute. It's waited a month and gotten no answer, causing not a little consternation in government circles.
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As for the Jerusalem system, Veolia not only wants out of running the future train; it's trying to sell its 5% stake in Citypass, the light rail consortium.

In recent days Veolia has been sending feelers to the Egged or Dan bus consortiums, to potentially replace it as project operator.

Any change in the ownership structure of Citypass, or in the identity of the project operator, requires the permission of the state. Also, the attempt to add Egged to the consortium could arouse opposition at the Antitrust Authority.

Veolia has had to contend not only with the delays and difficulties in building the light rail project itself, but with political pressure at home as well. Two months ago a French court heard a lawsuit by a pro-Palestinian group, demanding that the light rail project be halted.

The organization based itself on an article in French law that allows the court to void business agreements, signed by French companies, that violate international law.

The political pressure on Veolia has been mounting in another direction. According to various reports abroad, the French firm had been losing major projects in Europe because of its involvement in the Jerusalem job. Observers claim that's the real reason Veolia opted out."

Read more here

See also Veolia and the 4th Geneva Convention.