Edition: 11 – January, 2009
Veolia loses 3.5 billion
The Stockholm community council in Sweden announced that the French company Veolia, which has been the current operator of the subways in Stockholm County for the past ten years, lost the contract to the MTR-cooperation.
The contract for the coming eight years is worth â¬3.5 billion and has been the biggest ongoing public contract procurement process in Europe. Although the board for the Stockholm Countyâs public transportation (SL) ensured that the decision was based solely on commercial factors, the debate about\ Veoliaâs involvement in a controversial tramway project in Jerusalem (Jerusalem light railway) has been intense in Swedish media.
Public protests in Sweden against Veolia have brought the attention to the dilemma of operating public services while being involved in politically controversial activities.
As late as the day before the decision, the Stockholm community council received lists with thousands of signatories from people demanding that the council choose an operator who was not associated with violations of international humanitarian law.
New York City groups move forward with BDS
Adalah â NY has targeted several businesses with a strong presence in New York city for boycott. Among them are both Israeli companies and global firms that profit from apartheid, including Ahava Dead Sea Cosmetics, Sabra Humus, Delta Galil Industries, Estee Lauder, Motorola, LâOreal/Body Shop, Max Brenner, Sabon and Aroma Espresso Bar. [MORE]
Also, New York City Labor Against the War reaffirmed issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to the Palestinian BDS call. [MORE]
Israeli produce boycott
Following the bombing and invasion of Gaza, a number of companies boycotted Israeli produce. Sales fell markedly in Jordan, the UK as well as in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. [MORE]
Capitalizing on this, the BIG Campaign is calling for a renewed campaign against Agrexco across Europe for Valentines Day. The Valentine’s Day period leading up to February 14th is one of Agrexco’s busiest times of year, when the company ships fresh flowers to cities across Europe. [MORE]
17 universities occupied across England
In response to the destruction of Gaza, students across England have mobilized themselves, occupying university buildings in solidarity with Palestine. Among studentsâ demands are assistance to Palestinian students, official condemnation of recent attacks and various forms of BDS. [MORE]
Grand Hotel Intercontinental cancels Israeli Tourism Fair
The Grand Hotel Intercontinental in Paris cancelled an Israeli tourism fair, which was scheduled to be held on January 15th. Some 50 presenters from the Israeli tourism industry had planned to hold exhibits for their French counterparts, in an effort to strengthen French tourism to Israel. A campaign initiated by CAPJPO-EuroPalestine, however, was successful in garnering enough public pressure to force the hotel to cancel the event. [MORE]
Protestors close Beirut Starbucks branch
About one hundred Lebanese protestors forced a Starbucks coffee shop in Beirut to close on January 13th. The protestors demonstrated outside of the coffee shop, calling for a boycott of Starbucks and forcing it to close down for the day. [MORE]
Mauritian workers call for boycott of Israeli products
The Association of Social Workers of Mauritius has asked the public to boycott all Israeli products on the local market. Members of the organization called for all Israeli products such as Carmel, Jaffaden juices, Israeli foodstuffs of Yarden France, generic medicines of the firms Teva and Ivax, to be taken out of sale and boycotted.
Several companies cut business ties with Israeli firms
Companies in Turkey and the UK cut business ties with Israeli firms in protest of the Gaza attacks.
In Turkey, industrial and dental toolmaker Strauss & Co. Industrial Diamonds received a letter yesterday from a customer in Turkey, who declined to purchase equipment due to the fighting in Gaza. “We cannot sell Israeli products because of the cruel attacks by Israel in Gaza”, wrote an executive at Turkish company Guloguz to his Israeli counterpart. [MORE]
In the UK, British telecommunications firm FreedomCall has terminated its cooperation with Israel’s MobileMax for the same reasons. [MORE]
Aztek signs NIS 12M deal with Turkey
Israeli company Aztek Technologies Ltd. was awarded a NIS 12 million (about $3.03 million) contract, under which it would market Microsoft products to the Turkish market. [MORE]
Dutch company specializes in the import of Israeli products
Israel Producten Centrum is a Dutch company that specializes in selling Israel products both in Netherlands and across Europe. The companyâs products include wines, jams, bedding, cosmetics, jewelry, candles, spices, tea, clocks, and more. A total of 45 providers supply the store with hundreds of products, which bring in an annual return of â¬1.5 million (about $1.94 million).
According to one of the founders, “They don’t care if the products are made within the Green Line or on the other side of it, they only care that the products were all made in Israel and not in the Far East, and mainly, in the southern communities.” [MORE]
Ormat expands in Africa and Central America
Ormat Technologies, Inc. announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Orpower 4, Inc., signed loan documents for project financing of up to $105 million to refinance Ormatâs investment in the 48 MW Olkaria III geothermal power plant located in Naivasha, Kenya.
In Central America, Ormat has signed a $65 contract with Banco Centroamericano de Integracion Economica for the supply, supervision of installation, start-up and testing of Las Pailas Geothermal Plant, a new geothermal power plant that is to be constructed in Costa Rica.
This is the second order for an Ormat geothermal power plant in Costa Rica. The company has been designing, supplying, upgrading and operating geothermal power solutions in Central America since 1999. [MORE]
Israeli firm awarded contract for US border
Magal Security Systems Ltd. has received an order of approximately $1 million to supply a security and protection system for a major United States international border crossing.
The system will include an array of mobile and thermal cameras for border perimeter protection, as well as a people tracking and inspection matrix based on RFID technology, access and gate control, with wireless information broadcast for personnel and vehicles, managed by Magalâs FORTIS command & control module.
Magal’s US subsidiary received the order, which is expected to be delivered during 2009. [MORE]
MILITARY AND ARMS TRADE NEWS
Blockade of Greek port stops arms transfer
A mass mobilization against the proposed transfer of US weapons to Israel occurred in Greece, with thousands of people participating in the blockade of the Atakos port. Demonstrators occupied portâs administration building, where they substituted the EU flag with a Palestinian one.
Opposition pressure from the Greek Communist party and other left-wing groups have been instrumental in pressuring the Greek government to distance itself from arms transfers to Israel.
Spanish war crimes trial
Spain’s High Court will launch a war crimes investigation into seven Israelis, including a former defence minister, over a 2002 attack that killed 14 civilians and a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip, court papers said. [MORE]
However, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos has informed Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of Spain’s plan to amend legislation that granted a Spanish judge the authority to launch war crimes investigations against senior Israeli officials. [MORE]
Also this month, Ehud Olmert promised military brass that the Israeli would protect them from war crimes charges for their conduct in the Gaza attacks.
Belgium to stop exporting ‘arms that bolster the IDF’ to Israel
Belgium’s government has agreed to ban the export to Israel of weapons that “strengthen it militarily,” a Belgian minister said on Thursday. A Brussels-based research group accused Israel of enlisting child soldiers.
Ceysens said this after a discussion on policy regarding weapons exports to Israel following the operation in Gaza. A final resolution has not been passed yet, but Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht already said recently that “given the current circumstances, weapons cannot be shipped from Belgium to Israel.” [MORE]
Elbit deals in Turkey unlikely to be canceled
Despite the Turkish Prime Ministerâs walkout at Davos, arms trade between Israel and Turkey remains strong. Elbit Systems is involved in three large projects in Turkey: upgrading Turkey’s M-60 tanks, a project worth $780 million of which Elbit’s share is $183 million; a joint UAV deal with IAI, worth some $200 million; and an IMINT systems deal for the Turkish air force jointly with IAI, worth $141 million, of which Elbit Systems unit El-Op’s share is $87 million. [MORE]
In addition, this month Elbit won a $40 million contract from Israelâs Ministry of Defence to supply Skylark UAVs to IDF units. [MORE]
Protest against army visit in UK
Four people were arrested when dozens protested in London against the visit of Israel Defense Force reservist, Col. (res) Geva Rapp, to a Jewish center in the city. British media reported that between 80 to 100 protesters gathered in front of the Jewish London Student Center in protest of the colonel’s arrival. [MORE]
January sees jump in Israel â India arms deals
A number of deals have been undertaken this month between Israel and India, indicating the strengthening ties between the military establishments of both countries. According to India Defense, India and Israel are concluding large arms deals valued at about $600 million. Further, the Indian air force is looking to buy additional Phalcon aircraft, the first of which arrived from Israel this month. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Indian Tata Industries Ltd. have established a joint venture. Finally, it has been reported that Israeli firms will be showcased at this yearâs Aero India Aerospace Exhibition.
According to the Indian press, the Indian Navy is about to purchase two Israeli-made aerial balloon radar systems. The two radar systems, which each cost $20 â 30 million, are manufactured by ELTA systems, a division of IAI, and are already in use by the Indian Air Force.
The Indian government has also canceled the postponement it had imposed on conducting negotiations with Israel for the purchase of Barak missile systems. The government, which had postponed the deal on account of bribery charges, has decided to accelerate the previously frozen negotiations for the purchase of 300 Barak missiles for installation on ships, in addition to the purchase of Rafael’s Spider air-to-air missiles and an ELTA radar system. [MORE]
Also, the first of three ‘Phalcon’ Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW) aircraft landed in New Delhi. India had signed a $1.1 billion deal for three Phalcons with Israel in 2004, and the Indian air force is looking to acquire three additional planes, negotiations for which are reported to be in advanced stages. [MORE]
According to Globes, the board of IAI approved a $50 million investment in Nova Integrated Systems Ltd., an Indian joint venture with Tata Industries Ltd. unit Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. Nova Integrated Systems will develop, manufacture, and provide technical support for defence and aviation products, including in missile, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), radar, electronic warfare, and homeland defence technologies. [MORE]
Finally, it has been reported that Israeli arms manufactures will also be present at the Aero India Aerospace Exhibition in Bangalore, India, from the 11-15 February 2009. Rafael, a major Israeli arms firm, will showcase its air and missile defense systems. [MORE]
FREE TRADE AND GOVERNMENT AGREEMENTS
Oxford supports BDS
In response to the attacks on Gaza, the city of Oxford has adopted position condemning Israeli military action and supporting the BDS campaign. The motion was adopted on 19 January and calls for âboycotting Israeli products and companiesâ as well as âan immediate arms boycott of Israel by Britain and other countries.â
Action against QC-Israel Free Trade agreement
Montrealers occupied the office of the Economic Minister of Quebec, Raymond Bachand, to demand that Quebec withdraw from the QC-Israel Free Trade agreement. Minister Bachand signed the bilateral economic accord with Israel in the fall of 2008 without any regard for the growing international campaign of boycott against Israeli apartheid or Israel’s numerous violations of international law. [MORE]
Venezuela, Bolivia, Qatar and Mauritania sever ties with Israel
In response to Israelâs offensive in Gaza, Venezuela, Bolivia, Qatar and Mauritania all took measures to suspend their diplomatic relations with Israel. Venezuela was the first country to take such action, expelling the Israeli ambassador on 7 January, and fully severing its ties a week later. [MORE]
Bolivia followed suit on 15 January, when President Evo Morales announced his country was breaking off all relations with Israel. [MORE]
Qatar and Mauritania made their announcements on 16 January. Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said that he would ask Israel to close its trade office in Doha and remove its staff, while Mauritania said that it had frozen all political and economic ties. [MORE]