Veolia involved in more dirty business as BDS campaign grows
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Veolia involved in more dirty business as BDS campaign grows

The French multinational company Veolia has been a key target since the beginning of the BDS movement. This has been largely due to Veolia and Alstom’s involvement in the tramline that will link the ring of settlements around to Jerusalem to the western part of the city. This ongoing project has been the center of a legal trial in France. However, Veolia is also involved with bus routes that are reserved for settlers only, in addition to operating the Tovlan landfill, which is located in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank.

A strong legal battle has been underway in France against Veolia and Alstom. In February of 2007, the Assoctation France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) launched a court case against the companies in regards to their involvement with the tramline. AFPS also applied for the Court to bar these companies from carrying out their contracts with the occupation authorities, citing violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention concerning the protections of civilians in times of war. In December, a French court admitted the case, meaning that the High Court of Nanterre should begin to judge the substance of the case.

In addition to the tramway, Veolia is involved in a number of other settlement related ventures. Recently Corporate Watch published a repot on the Tovlan landfill. While Veolia claims that operating the landfill cannot be considered unethical, as the site is said to be open both Palestinians and Israelis, and that additionally, the site provides benefits for the surrounding Palestinian communities.

These claims are far from the truth. Since it’s opening in 1999, Palestinian collections are almost entirely absent from the landfill. This is due to the high fees that Palestinians are subjected to (40 NIS). While the figures that the Israeli settlements pay are kept secret, workers at Tovlan have been told that they are sizably lower. Effectively, the waste dumped at Tovlan comes from the numerous Jewish-only settlements in the Jordan Valley.

The work force at Tovlan is entirely Palestinian. None of the working conditions at Tovlan are well documented, and the workers work long days with well under the legally required Israeli minimum wage of 154 NIS a day and can be dismissed without cause or denied wages. Additionally, work at Tolvan is dangerous, although many workers at Tovlan have been injured on the job, and have been left without compensation.

Tovlan is also home to a settlement sewage water plant and is able to generate electricity using the gas extracted from the dumped waste. In this way, directly supports the Occupation settlement project, as any energy generated is exclusively used by the nearby settlements. Nearby Palestinian villages such as Fasayil and Abu Ajaj are denied the right to electricity altogether by the Occupation authorities.

In response Veolia’s ongoing profiting and support of the occupation, a strong campaign has been mounted against the company worldwide. In addition to the legal battle, activists have been pressuring their local governments to divest. In Ireland, for example, activists have brought up the issue in front of the Dublin City Council, among others. Other activists are calling on pension funds to divest from Veolia in the same way that they have divested from Elbit and Africa Israel.