Edition: 04 – June, 2008
Pressure on Veolia continues
This month has seen a number of developments in the campaign against Veolia. Following the decision by SNS Bankâs subsidiary ANS to divest from Veolia, activists approached SNS bank itself. This month, SNS has agreed âthe Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is not consistent with international lawâ but that âthe bank does not consider the construction of the tramway as a direct, grave violation of human rights.â However, SNS has not yet ruled out divestment, which will depend on the future actions of Veolia.
In Palestine, the Civic Coalition to Defend Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem is organizing a âStop the Expulsionâ campaign. The aim of the campaign is to uphold Palestinian residency rights in Jerusalem, which have been trampled on by the Occupation authorities. One goal of the campaign is to pressure international corporations and governments that are actively supporting the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian capital. Veolia is the first company to be blacklisted by the campaign for its involvement in the construction of the light rail system.
Finally, it has been reported that Polar Investments, the largest stakeholder in the Jerusalem light rail, is planning to sell its shares in the project. This is on account of Polarâs wish to focus on real estate as well as the problems that have plagued the construction of the rail system. According to Globes, the other shareholders are Ashtrom Properites Ltd. (27.5%), Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services Ltd. (20%), Alstom SA (20%), and Veolia unit Connex (5%).
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Campaign against Egypt â Israel natural gas deal moves forward
The Egyptian government will reconsider the price of the natural gas it exports to Israel as well as prices in its other contracts.
The political opposition in Egypt has criticized the Mubarak government for selling natural gas to Israel at prices that do not reflect the international market. Additionally, the opposition has been mobilizing opposition to the contract signed between Israel Electric Corporation and the Egyptian Eastern Mediterranean Gas Company.
In May, Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat, stated that the aim of campaign against the gas deal was to not only halt natural gas trade with Israel but with other countries as well.
In the latest development, the Popular Campaign for Stopping the Export and Egyptian Natural Gas to Israel has sued the Mubarak government in an effort to raise public awareness about the agreement. The campaign will reportedly included a petition drive, mock trials of government officials as well as calls for religious leaders to condemn the sale of natural gas to Israel.
For more information go here and here.
More victories against Leviev
The campaign against Leviev moves forward as UNICEF rejects Leviev donations and the Arab League considers blacklisting companies owned by the Israeli businessman.
The UNICEF decision comes after pressure on the agency from within Palestine as well as internationally. The international campaign has been led by Adalah-NY, who has staged a number of protests in front of Leviev jewelry stores in New York City and called on Dubai to bar Leviev from opening stores in the country. In Palestine, UNICEF officials met with Palestinian representatives of Jayyous to survey the effect of settlement construction. This effort has resulted in UNICEF severing ties with Lev Leviev.
Following this victory and the press coverage surrounding the issue, the Arab League has been forced to take action against Leviev, who announced plans to open jewellery stores in Dubai.
For more information go here, here and here.
India â Israel business ties increase
This month, a number of developments have occurred in the business relationship between India and Israel.
First, the board of Dan Hotels Corp. Ltd. has decided to consider launching hotel activity in India. The company is already in talks to buy land and build a hotel on the site. The company did not disclose the location of the site or the other parties in the negotiations. However, sources inform Globes that the hotel will probably be a 250-room business hotel in a location with a high-tech orientation.
Investment in the project, including the purchase of the land and building of the hotel, is estimated at $50 million. Construction is expected to take several years.
In addition, the head of investment bank Collins Stewart’s Indian investment banking, Deepak Chhabria, recently visited Israel. Together with Collins Stewart Israel manager Mark Green, he met with a number of corporate executives and businesspeople in an effort to interest them in Collins Stewart. Chhabria is reported to have stated that the group is sitting on transactions potentially worth $1 billion.
Finally, Israeli mobile technology firm Ceragon Networks has shipped $3 million worth of product to mobile operator Idea Cellular Ltd. in India. [MORE]
Japanese giant to invest millions in Israeli industries
According to YNET, âJapan’s Alternative Investment Capital, an investment advisory company which specializes in private equity investments, announced recently it will be investing some $130 million in various companies in Europe and Israel.
Israel has never before been perceived as an attractive investment by the Japanese, but the innovative technologies emanating from the Israeli industry have now caught their eye: A.I. Capital’s investment stands to be a test-case for the company, considered one of Japan’s largest venture capital firms, with $2.9 billon in assets to its name.â [MORE]
MILITARY AND ARMS TRADE NEWS
Spanish court examines war crimes case against Israeli military brass
On 24 June 2008, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) filed a lawsuit at the National Court of Spain, the highest Spanish judicial council, against seven former senior Israeli military officials. All were involved in the planning and execution of the âtargeted assassinationâ of Salah Shehada, commander of the armed wing of Hamas, in Gaza city in July 2002. The Occupation dropped a 500 kg bomb on his house killing him and seventeen others, including his wife, his daughter, his guard, eight children (including a 2-month infant), two elderly men, and two women. In addition, seventy-seven other people were injured, eleven houses were completely destroyed and thirty-two houses damaged.
This lawsuit the Spanish National Court is now examining has been made possible by the cooperation of PCHR, a series of experienced and well known human rights lawyers and Palestinian and Spanish solidarity organizations (including the Arab Cause Solidarity Committee and the Al-Quds Association for Solidarity with People in Arab Countries).
As an immediate response, the Occupation has ordered all the military officers implicated in the case not to enter Spain to avoid arrest and prosecution.
This case is a step towards holding those responsible for war crimes accountable. It is as well yet another indication of the disastrous political and criminal implications of engaging in the arms trade with Israel.
See PCHR for more information
A victory for the Raytheon 9
The Raytheon 9, who were facing jail time for occupying and destroying equipment in Derry Raytheon offices, have been found not-guilty by a unanimous verdict of the jury. [MORE]
Rabintex wins another US Army contract
The contract, which is for NIS 18.6 million, involves the conversion of vehicles. Rabintexâs US subsidiary Burek Inc. will undertake the order. [MORE]
Israel to buy F-35 fighter jets
Israel wants to start buying radar-evading Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets as soon as 2011, with delivery likely about two years later. [MORE]
Elbit systems update
July saw a number of developments at Elbit systems, the company that is responsible for a number of Wall related security systems. These included the delivery of equipment to the Israeli Air Force (IAF), the winning of new contracts, and a partnership with Technion (Israel Institute of Technology).
Early this month, Elbit systems and Lockeed Martin delivered aviation equipment for the F-161 to the IAF.
In addition, Elbit has won a contract from an unnamed country to to supply âintelligence knowledge management systems.â The contract is worth $9 million. The company has also been selected by Boeing to undertake a project for the US Navy.
Finally, Elbit has signed a joint research agreement with Technion. Over the next 5 years, the company will give research grants to a number of researchers and students at the institute. [MORE]
US discusses funding Israeli âIron Domeâ
According to Globes, the âBush administration is considering ways to help Israel develop defences against short-range rockets, including $200 million in aid for developing and deploying the Iron Dome system. The Iron Dome is intended to protect Sderot and other communities near the Gaza Strip from Kassam rockets. A joint US-Israeli committee, set up last year by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak, is due to submit its recommendations on ways to help Israel towards the end of summer.â
Israel has requested that the US fund 65% of the $310 million price tag. [MORE]
FREE TRADE AND GOVERNMENT AGREEMENTS
COSATU attacks Israeli business project in South Africa
Following reports that Orsus Solutions Israel Ltd. won a $5 million contract with the state owned Transnet Freight Rail company, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) issued a strong statement attacking the project, promising serious action if it is not halted.
According to the COSATU press release, âWe need to take drastic action to disrupt this transaction, which is an attack on the noble struggle of the oppressed Palestinian people. We need to send a clear message to all oppressors that our country will not be used by countries which oppress peoples for greedy commercial interests.â
The project, now underway, is connecting three nerve centres in Johannesburg, Richardâs Bay and Cape Town, with surveillance cameras, digital video recorders, access control systems, fire systems, and electrical fence sensors deployed across 34,000 kilometres of railway lines. It is a clear support from the South African government to the Israeli âhomeland securityâ sector that thrives on the oppression and ghettoization of the Palestinian people. It further flies in the face of the commitment signed as well by the ANC to âseek to change such policies as that of military and economic aid provided despite Israelâs violations of international lawâ
A larger campaign to ensure South African tax payersâ money is not used reward Israelâs military complex is developing.
Campaign against the EU-Israel Association Agreement
On June 16, the EU held its council meeting at which it announced its decision to upgrade the EU-Israel Association Agreement, stating,
âOur common goal to upgrade relations stems from our awareness of the traditional links, the cultural and human values, and the economic and security interests that we share. [â¦â]
The upgrade includes enhanced cooperation in political, economic, scientific, legal, cultural, educational and counter-terrorism matters and grants Israel the highest level of relations available to a non-member state.
This flies in the face of years of campaigning in civil society and beyond to suspend the entire agreement on the grounds of Israelâs blatant failure to respect Article 2 that considers human rights an essential part of the agreement.
The EU Council rejected the EU parliamentâs 2002 vote to suspend the agreement, Salam Fayyadâs letter not to upgrade the relations and a large number of European civil society efforts. European NGOs working on human rights, housing and health rights and development have demanded a guarantee of Palestinian rights as a condition for the continuation of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. [MORE]
Los Angeles continues to build links with Israel
Globes reported that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has signed a cooperation agreement with Kinarot-Jordan Valley Technology Incubator, which focuses on water technologies. Villaraigosa led a delegation of top municipal officials, which includes Los Angeles Department of Water & Power CEO H. David Nahai.
The deal will allow Israeli water technology start-ups access to the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power facilities for pilot projects. The cooperation agreement will include working relations in water R&D ventures and academic studies, which will also encompass the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). It has also been stated that Mekorot may be part of the deal, although the company has not made any official agreement.
Additionally, Villaraigosa also met Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, toured Sderot, and signed a security and anti-terrorism cooperation agreement between Ben Gurion Airport and Los Angeles International Airport. [MORE]
France expresses interest in Canal Project
French president Sarkozy has expressed interest in the Red-Dead Sea Canal project. The undertaking, part of the âPeace Valleyâ projects, is set to involve Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli businessmen. The Saudi royal family has also stated itâs willingness to invest. [MORE]
It has been reported that the canal project, which aims to tackle water issues, will include the construction of hotels and recreational parks that will benefit the Israeli tourism sector. [MORE]