The global BDS movement has achieved a huge success in the past few days, as Veolia is reportedly abandoning its involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail project.
Reports from the press indicated that the French multinational – which was supposed to run the train system once it is completed, and also holds a 5% stake in Citypass, the light rail consortium – has decided to both pull out of the agreement to run the system, and also to sell its stake in Citypass.
News reports cited worldwide BDS activism as a direct factor in Veoliaâs decision. As a result of the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, which began in Bilbao in November, Veolia has lost some $7 billion worth of contracts in Europe.
According to Palestinian BNC activist Omar Barghouti, the victory can be attributed to âyears of hard, principled, meticulous and persistent work by French solidarity groups, particularly AFPS; by the growing French BDS movement which was instrumental in making Veolia lose a huge contract in Bordeaux; by Dutch activists who achieved the first success in convincing a Dutch bank to divest from Veolia and applied pressure on other banks to follow suit; by Swedish peace and justice groups, mainly connected to the Church of Sweden, particularly Diakonia, and Swedish Palestine solidarity groups who cost Veolia the heaviest, $4.5 billion contract in running the Stockholm metro; by British solidarity groups and activists, particularly affiliated with PSC, who contributed tremendously to excluding Veolia from a lucrative contract in the West Midlands; and of course by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, BNC, which partnered with all the above in the now famous Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign to pressure the company to abandon this illegal project.â
While this is a major landmark moment for the BDS movement, it is important to note that it is not an ultimate or final victory. Veolia has not yet officially announced that it will pull out of the deal to run the rail line, nor has it taken any action to sell its 5% stake in Citypass. Moreover, it remains complicit in other aspects of the settlement industry, including by operating settlement transportation systems and sewage networks.
As such, it is important to keep the pressure on Veolia until it takes concrete measures to forego the light rail project, along with its complicity in the rest of the settlement industry. Veoliaâs actions to date are a clear indication that BDS activism can be extremely powerful, and now is the time to continue to use that power to put an end to the apartheid regime.