The second large scale Israeli public transport infrastructure project is now feeling the heat of BDS campaigners. The Israeli light rail project in Jerusalem has been since years targeted by BDS activists that support Palestinian calls for boycotts and divestments from companies that participate in this project, which links Israeli settlements to West Jerusalem and strengthens the Israeli grip on the occupied eastern part of the city.
The A1 railway project that will connect Jerusalem and Tel Aviv – passing through the lands of Beit Surik and Beit Iksa and hence a clear violation of the IV Geneva Convention and Palestinian rights – is now facing the drop out of international companies while campaigners are stepping up pressure.
A major partner contracted to do the tunnelling, the Austrian Alpine Bau, chose to back out of the project before construction had started.
Now it has been made public that the German government has forced its state owned railway company Deutsche Bahn to pull out of the train line. In February, the German transport minister wrote to Deutsche Bahn, a state owned company, to express the view that the A1 train project "is a problematic venture and a potential violation of international law, touching on questions of status". The ministry subsequently informed a member of parliament that Deutsche Bahn had ended its involvement in the project after the government raised its concerns. This is one of the first known government interventions relating corporate complicity with Israeli violations of international law.
Yesterday, the Italian coalition "Stop that train" has launched a new initiative in their campaign to pressure Pizzarotti, the Italian company that one the contract for the construction of the tunnels along the rail track, to withdraw from the project. The new campaign is titled "Free your municipality from Pizzarotti" and calls on activists and concerned citizens to lobby their municipal councils to pass motions that review existing contracts with Pizzarotti and bar the municipality from giving new contracts to the company as long as it is involved in the A1 railway project.
The Stop That Train Coalition argues that:
"A European directive, taken up in Italy in the Public Contracts Code, concerning the procedures for awarding public contracts provides for the exclusion from public procurement stakeholders "who have committed a grave fault in the exercise of their profession."
We believe that Pizzarotti & C. S.p.A. Parma, through its involvement in the project of the railway line A1 and its refusal to withdraw from the project, which constitutes a flagrant violation of international law, has made an fault grave enough in the exercise of its profession, which would warrant exclusion from bidding for public works."
For more information and a draft motion for municipal councils, see: www.stopthattrain.org