Edition: 14 – April, 2009
Belgian campaign targets bank financing Israeli settlements
In a remarkably short period of time, activists in Belgium have built a strong basis for the campaign “Israel colonizes — Dexia funds,” asking the bank to divest from its subsidiary Dexia Israel because of its financing the expansions of the Ariel, Alfei Menashe, Beit Aryeh, Beit-El, Elkana, Har Hebron, Kedumim and Givat Zeev settlements.
The public in Belgium has responded positively to the Dexia campaign. During a massive demonstration against the Israeli attacks on Gaza in Brussels on 11 January, in which 70,000 citizens participated, participants threw shoes at the Dexia offices to show their dissatisfaction with the bank’s investments in the illegal settlements.
The Dexia Committee has raised substantial support for the “Israel colonizes — Dexia funds” campaign. In a few months’ time, 45 organizations, including political parties and national trade unions, gave their support. Trade unions organizing workers in the banking sector also joined the campaign, including the Christian ACV. The ACV, with almost two million members, is the largest Belgian federation of labor.
Dexia can expect a heated debate about divestment from Dexia Israel at its shareholders meeting in May 2009 as the Dexia campaign has raised the support of Dexia shareholders. [MORE]
Produce boycott causes stir in UK
Tesco has come under fire from the pro-Israel lobby after setting up a customer helpline option for people to complain about it stocking Israeli products. A recorded message told callers ringing its general customer services number: “If you are ringing regarding Israeli goods, please press one.” [MORE]
Veolia loses contracts in France and Ireland, faces court proceedings
April saw several important developments in the fight against the Jerusalem light rail. In the middle of April, Veolia lost a contract worth 750 million euros in Bordeaux. This management contract was the largest urban network in France. The Urban Community of Bordeaux said that its decision was based on commercial factors, but Veolia’s involvement in the Jerusalem tramway has created serious controversy for the company.
In Ireland, the Galway City Council followed the lead of the Stockholm Community Council and voted 12-2 not to renew the city contract with Veolia in response to the company’s involvement in Jerusalem. The city council is in favor of canceling the existing contract, but are unable to do so as they are bound by public procurement. [MORE]
Also of great importance, the High Court of Nanterre has agreed to hear the legal claim brought by Association France Palestine SolidaritÃ© (AFPS) against Veolia transport, Alstom and Alstom transport regarding the construction and operation of a light railway in East Jerusalem. Proceedings are set to begin in June.
AFPS has also launched an International petition to the UN General Assembly to set up a special international penal court to try Israeli war crimes, notably in the Gaza Strip. [MORE]
Israeli settlement produce may be enjoying EU privileges
European Union officials are seeking evidence to support claims that fruit and vegetables from Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories are being exported under false pretense. [MORE]
Israeli firm building in London
Israeli developer Gil Levy has obtained planning permits for two high-rises in Londonâs Blackfriars in Southwark on the south bank of Thames. A 23-storey office block and a 42-storey residential high-rise are planned at 20 Blackfriars Road. [MORE]
Nike and Delta Galil
Delta Galil Industries Ltd. has completed its acquisition of active performance socks manufacturer Gibor Sports Active Wear Ltd. Headquartered in Netanya, Gibor Sports has factories in the Galilee, Jordan, and Turkey. Delta Galil stated that it expects the acquisition to double its sock sales to Nike Inc. to NIS 90 million a year, 80% of which will be in Europe and the rest in the US, thereby becoming a key socks supplier to the sports goods manufacturer. [MORE]
NICE subsidiary wins contract with Swiss bank
NICE Systems Ltd. subsidiary Actimize Ltd. has signed a multimillion dollar contract with a Swiss-based multinational bank to provide a packaged equities trading compliance surveillance solution. [MORE]
Israeli shipping corporation returns Greek port to weekly line
Israel Corporation subsidiary Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. is resuming the direct weekly call at Pireaus in Greece as part of the Zim Container Service (ZCS) between the Mediterranean, North America, and Asia. The first ship to call at Piraeus will be the Zim Panama.
The ZCS line calls at Piraeus, Haifa, Livorno, Genoa, Tarragona, Halifax, New York, Savannah, Kingston, Long Beach, Oakland, Shekou, Hong Kong, Yantian, Ningbo, Shanghai, Pusan, Balboa, Kingston, Savannah, New York, Halifax, and Tarragona. [MORE]
Amdocs wins several deals in US, Angola
Amdocs announced that Movicel, a leading Angolan mobile provider, has selected the Amdocs Compact Convergence solution. [MORE]
In the US, Amdocs will supply its customer experience system (CES) 7.5 Portfolio products and managed services to Clearwire Corporation subsidiary Clearwire Communications LLC under a multi-year agreement. Clearwire is building a nationwide WiMAX network in the US. [MORE]
Vietnam wants stake in Delek oil project
Delek Group Ltd. is continuing its oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea offshore from Vietnam. The Vietnamese government wants part of the action. [MORE]
Arrow Ecology wins $17 million deal in southern California
Arrow Ecology and Engineering Overseas Ltd. and its partners have won a $17 million municipal solid waste to biofuel conversion project in southern California. Arrow Ecology’s share of the project is $7-8 million, plus maintenance fees over the 20-year franchise. Consensus Business Group of the UK and a large Israeli investment company have invested $15 million in Arrow Ecology to date. [MORE]
ADC files complaints with Treasury Department against US tax exempt organizations raising funds for West Bank settlements
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) filed multiple administrative complaints with the US Department of the Treasury, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), requesting investigations into the activities of organizations claiming tax-exempt status under section 501(C)3 of the US Tax Code yet allegedly raising funds for the development of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. [MORE]
MILITARY AND ARMS TRADE NEWS
UK campaigners score victory towards arms embargo
It came as no surprise to campaigners in the United Kingdom to hear the British Foreign Minister David Miliband reveal this week that components supplied by Britain were “almost certainly” used by Israel in its recent military assault on Gaza. Despite Israel’s continued human rights abuses, the UK government has licensed millions of pounds’ worth of military equipment to Israel over the last few years including components for tanks and combat aircraft, in direct conflict with its own arms policy.
The British government’s announcement that it will be reviewing arms sales to Israel in light of the atrocities committed in Gaza earlier this year was, however, surprising. The move represents a real victory for the Stop Arming Israel coalition, which began its campaign for a two-way arms embargo against Israel during its invasion of Lebanon in July 2006 and serves as a potent example of public pressure forcing governments to review their policies towards Israel. [MORE]
Fighting the arms trade in Brazil
Merchants of war visiting Brazil for the Latin American Aerospace and Defense (LAAD) Trade Show were met with a noisy protest made up of social movements, unions, student organizations, left parties and other popular organizations. The LAAD Fair showcased some of the biggest global names in war profiteering from across the world, including Elbit Systems, Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI), Rafael Advance Defense Systems, and Israel Military Industries (IMI). This comes in response to a call by the BNC in Palestine. [MORE]
Bringing war crimes charges in Norway
Norway’s public prosecutors said they would study a complaint filed by a group of lawyers accusing Israeli leaders of war crimes over a military offensive in Gaza last year that killed hundreds of civilians. A group of Norwegian lawyers filed the complaint, using a new law under which foreigners can be charged in Norway with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity even if the alleged acts were carried out elsewhere. [MORE]
Spanish war crimes case update
Public prosecutors requested that a Spanish court shelve a complaint against seven top Israeli military figures over a deadly bombing of Gaza in 2002. The prosecutors justified the move on the grounds that, according to information in their possession, the alleged crimes against humanity in question are already the subject of a legal procedure in Israel. [MORE]
However, Spanish National Court judge Fernando Andreu announced that he will pursue his investigation into a 2002 Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip, despite contrary advice by prosecutors at the court.
Andreu said the 2002 bombing in densely populated Gaza City might constitute a crime against humanity. That attack, using a one-ton bomb dropped from an Israeli F-16, targeted and killed alleged Hamas member Salah Shehadeh along with 14 other people. [MORE]
Campaign against India â Israel arms scandal
The CPI(M) continues to call for an investigation into corruption and kickbacks surrounding India â Israel weapons deals. [MORE]
In the latest development, it has been reported that Sudhir Choudhrie, a UK resident and Indian arms dealer, allegedly received Â£80.5 million in kickbacks in the ₤1.3 billion IAI missile sale to India. [MORE]
Sudhir Choudrie and companies he owns are suspected of receiving large illegal commissions from billion-dollar arms deals involving Israeli arms sales to the Indian armed forces. As a result of the investigations and an arrest warrant issued in 2006, Choudrie moved to London permanently. Choudrie, along with Nanda Nanda and Arvin Kano are considered the largest arms dealers in India, with a hand in 80 percent of all arms deals in the country.
In nearly 15 years of close defense collaboration between the two countries, Israel has sold arms, technical knowledge and advanced systems worth about $8 billion to New Delhi. [MORE]
Columbia â Israeli military ties growing
Regarding new arms deals, Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reports that the deals are meant to solidify and modernize the military, and will include a wide variety of equipment from American, French, German, Israeli, and Russian suppliers. Additional research has added more details. [MORE]
Israeli arms suppliers build ties in Latin America
At a reception at the Latin American Aerospace and Defense Trade Show, which took place at the end of last week in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the establishment of a joint company was announced by the Chairman of the Board of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Mr. Yair Shamir, and the President of Synergy Group (a leading South American corporation specializing in aerospace, shipyard, and oil industries), Mr. German Efromovich. The joint company will be called EAE Aerospace Engineering Ltd.
Yair Shamir, Chairman of the Board of Israel Aerospace Industries: “We will be active in Brazil and other Latin American countries in the aerospace, maritime, and homeland security sectors” [MORE]
Russia in a $50 million deal for Israeli drones
Russian media have reported the deal is worth about $50 million and that Russia will buy the drones from Israel’s largest defence firm, state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). [MORE]
Rafael, IAI and others to appear in Paris
Israeli arms companies Rafael, IAI and others will participate in the Paris Air Show 2009 from June 15 â 19 where it will display missiles, drone technology, targeting systems and other products. [MORE] and [MORE]
Elbit Systems in April
Elbit Systems Ltd. and Rockwell Collins Inc. joint venture Vision Systems International, LLC (VSI), has received several new helmet mounted display system contracts with a total value of more than $120 million. [MORE]
Also this month, Elbit Systems completed Kinetic Systems takeover for $110 million. Kinetic Systems makes advanced life support and environmental control systems. Elbit Systems previously owned 51% of the Israeli maker of advanced life support and environmental control systems. It originally acquired 34% of Kinetic Systems in 1998, and exercised an option to increase its stake to 51% in 2000. The company has a wholly-owned US subsidiary, Real-Time Laboratories LLC.
Kinetic Systems’ products include climate control systems, and biological and chemical protection systems for combat vehicles. It also develops and manufactures hydraulics, fuel, braking and suspension systems, auxiliary power units for land vehicles, as well as hydraulic systems for aircraft. Kinetics main customers are in Israel, Europe and the US. [MORE]
India launches IAI-produced spy satellite
India launched the IAI made satellite “RESAT 2”, which is capable of transmitting radar images in all weather conditions. The deal is estimated to be worth some $170 million. [MORE]
Israel to buy more American helicopters, missiles
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) is negotiating with St. Louis-based Boeing to buy up to six more AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters, which the service plans to arm with locally made Spike missiles and U.S. Hellfires. [MORE]
Also, defense minister Ehud Barak wants to buy a U.S. military system to protect its southern towns and strategic facilities from Gaza-fired rockets for the cost of $25 million. [MORE]
US arms deliveries
The new delivery to Israel of a massive consignment of US munitions, revealed by Amnesty International, throws into question whether President Obama will act to prevent the US fueling further Israeli attacks against civilians that may amount to war crimes, as was perpetrated in Gaza. [MORE]
The US Campaign has been working to end military aid to Israel. [MORE]
Supplying the US military
Oshkosh Corp. in Oshkosh, WI supplies the US Marine Corpsâ and Navy with MTVR medium trucks. The company received a $10.6 order for 442 reducible-height armor kits on MTVR cargo, dump and tractor-trailer variants, and armor kits on MTVR wrecker variants at Jacksonville, FL. Israeli firm Plasan Sasa has been Oshkoshâs partner in this area since 2005. [MORE]
FREE TRADE AND GOVERNMENT AGREEMENTS
Cracks visible in EU â Israel relations
In April, cracks appeared in the otherwise cosy relationship between Israel and the EU. Near the end of the month, EU’s External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner told reporters in Brussels that the EU would not be moving ahead to upgrade ties with Israel.
The now-stalled plan to upgrade ties included a multiplication of bilateral meetings including at foreign ministers’ level, with the EU presidency also able to invite Israeli diplomats to EU security meetings held among ambassadors. [MORE]
Not every country is of this opinion, and the Czech Republic wants to continue with the intensification of EU-Israeli relations. [MORE]
In response, Israel warned the EU to tone down criticism or risk losing itâs role as broker in peace efforts. [MORE]
Individual countries have also evidenced signs of hostility toward Israel. The Dutch Labor, which is the second largest party in the country, called on the Netherlands to impose economic sanctions against Israel if the new government thwarts the peace process with the Palestinians. [MORE]
Yet, it is unfortunate that the European Union refuses to take up a rights based approach that asks Israel to respect Palestinian rights. The last two decades of ‘peace processes’ should have proven to everybody that these processes are nothing more than a smoke screen behind which Israel protracts and intensifies the dispossession of Palestinians.
Norway gov’t, banks investing in settlement construction company
As the pressure on companies to pull out from business facilitating Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip grows, it has been recently revealed that in Norway three private banks and the state pension fund invested $850,000 in Africa-Israel Investment Ltd. last year. Africa-Israel is currently the target of a boycott campaign by Palestine solidarity activists because of the company’s involvement in violations of international law in the West Bank. [MORE]
Also, the Israel Securities Authority has opened an investigation into the sharp rises in the share price of real estate company Africa-Israel Investments. Africa-Israel is controlled by Lev Leviev. Its share price has shot up 98.9% since the beginning of April, and 143.3% since the beginning of the year. [MORE]
Lieberman wants closer ties with Africa, Latin America
In the coming months Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will launch a diplomatic offensive against Iran in African and Latin American countries, believing that efforts must be invested in these continents as well, and not just in the United States and Europe.
The foreign minister will invite Israeli scientists and high-tech professionals to join his delegations, in order to try and establish technological and commercial cooperation and broaden the scope of Israeli exports to these continents. [MORE]
Egypt and Israel grow closer
Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom confirmed that Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman had invited him to visit Cairo. “I plan to visit Egypt in order to try and expand the regional cooperation. I believe we can find a common language to execute regional initiatives,” he said
It was also repoted that a top Egyptian envoy invited Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to visit Egypt during a meeting between the two on Wednesday, an Israeli political source said. [MORE]