Saturday 22 August 2009

LYONS, John: Home Truths,


August 22, 2009

Home Truths P2a

by John Lyons - The Weekend Australian - 22-23 August 2009

It’s four o’clock on Sunday afternoon in April and Nasser Jaber is standing in an Israeli courtroom. His task, on the face of it, is straightforward: to prove to the judge that the house he was born in 38 years ago – the house his grandparents moved into in the 1930s – is his. But there are more recent claimants to the house in Jerusalem’s Old City, and they believe they answer to a higher authority than title deeds or tenure.

Home Truths P3aJaber had moved in with hisparents while his house was being renovated, but made the mistake of leaving the property unattended. At 2.30am on April 2, four days after he’d left, Jaber’s next-door neighbours decided to take advantage of the Palestinian travel agent’s absence. They were armed Jewish settlers, hard-liners who rely on the Old Testment rather than documents of state to argue their right to live in certain sacred parts of Israel. They forced open his front door, changed the locks. and are now refusing to leave.

When alerted to the break in, Jaber contacted the Israeli police, expecting they would evict the settlers. Instead, the police took them food and supplies, and later that day helped another settler to move in. Jaber and some other neighbours had formed a blockade to try and deny the settlers access, but when the police called Jaber over to talk to them, other officers helped the newcomer enter. Much of this was captured on camera by Australian television journalist Sophie McNeill. The police became angry when they realised McNeill had filmed them. They took her media pass and warned: “Don’t come back to the Old City.”

Jaber began to have his quest to have the settlers evicted with full confidence in the Israeli legal system: nine years ago other settlers had claimed the house was theirs and he was forced to go to court. On that occasion the judge ruled that the documents the settlers were presenting were fakes and they were ordered to leave immediately.

This time the settler’s argument to the court is that they have in fact bought the property; Jaber says the documents they are using to claim this are similarly fabricated. And indeed, when the settlers made their argument in court, Jaber’s lawyer turned to them and asked why, if they already owned the house, were they continuing to make offers to buy it? The settlers’ lawyer did not respond.

Jaber for his part, has tendered his deeds to the property in evidence.

The judge told the settlers she had only two questions for them: what time had they entered the property? And how had they entered? “When we heard those two questions we thought everything would be OK,” Jaber says. “Obviously if you have good documents you can enter in the light of day.”

But over recent months, Jaber’s faith has been eroded, a process that began straight after the judges’s questions. the settlers’ lawyer was granted a private meeting with the judge, despite protests from Jaber’s counsel that he should also be present. After that meeting, Jaber says, the two key questions were never asked again. The judge ordered that the status quo should be maintained, with the settlers occupying the house, until the case could be heard in full.

The settlers have a particular view on what constitutes the status quo: they ahve connected water and electricity from their original house next dor, brought in their own furniture and set up computers. Jaber’s furniture and kitchen utensils were thrown into the street. Neither the police, the settlers, nor their lawyer would speak to The Weekend Australian magazine about the case.

Settlers in recent years have made a push to take possession of houses in the Old City which they say is particularly significant as it is near Judaism’s most sacred site, the Western Wall.

police near Jaber's house

Israeli police near Nasser Jaber's house

Jaber believes that if he were Jewish and seven armed Palestinians had broken into his house, the case would have been dealt with within the hour. But almost four months after the break-in, after five preliminary hearings and a mounting legal bill, he cannot even get a date for his next court appearance. In contrast, the courts moved quickly after a scuffle broke out when Jaber tried to prevent new settlers moving in: he was charged with obstructing police work and fined NIS 10,000 ($3120). As a result, he now has a criminal record which makes him ineligible for any government job. Jaber fears that even if he gets his house back, the settlers will break in again, in the hope that he will not have the money or energy to go through this for a third time. Another Palestinian who lives in the Old City, a journalist for a foreign news agency, says she too is nervous about leaving her home unguarded, because “this is a war of attrition by the settlers”.

Jaber claims that some Israelis want Palestinians to leave Jerusalem so that it can become totally Jewish, although he is quick to point out that not everyone feels that way. “Some of my Jewish clients have been trying to give me advice about how to get my house back,” he says. But he feels the climate has changed, and that many police are sympathetic to the settlers. He uses a term increasingly voiced by Palestinians, saying there is an attempt to “transfer” them out of Jerusalem to neighbouring countries, such as Jordan. In recent months, he says, people he had never seen before have opened the door of his office to ask, “What are you doing here? This is a Jewish place.”

Jaber’s disquiet is shared by many moderate Israelis. Last December, then prime minister Ehud Olmert condemned Jewish settlers in Hebron in the strongest imaginable terms. When settlers attacked nearby Palestinian after Israeli soldiers evicted them from a contested building, Olmert told his cabinet: “Immediately after the eviction, there were acts that cannot be described other than as an attempted progrom by Jews from the Hebron area, and other areas, against Palestinian residents in Judea and Samaria. I say this after much thought. I formulate these words with the greatest care that I can. We are the children of a people whose historic ethos is built on the memory of pogroms. The sight of Jews firing at innocent Palestinians has no other name than pogrom.”

The sadness of Nasser Jaber’s story is that he is just the kind of Palestinian the Israelis should be celebrating. Co-owner and general manager of one of Israel’s top travel agencies, he has about 35 regular Jewish customers, 40 Palestinian, plus a large number of tourists. His office is in the prestigious business precinct of West Jerusalem – the Jewish side – and on his wall hangs his Best Business Award for 2002, with a list of sponsors including Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres and Olmert. Yet now someone who should be a poster boy for successful relations between Jews and Palestinians, a role model for Arabs who want to build a business in Israel, feels angry and betrayed – he left his home for four days and may never walk back in again. “I feel alone,” he says.

There are settlers and there are settlers. The hard-loners are typified by those in Hebron, where about 600 Jews, many carrying M-16 rifles, are sheltered by the Israeli Defence Force from the 150,000 Palestinians who surround them. They’re the settlers from central casting. But to get a sense of the moderate mindset, it’s useful to visit a settlement more reflective of the Middle East – Efrat, a commuter area 20- minutes drive from Jerusalem. home to about 8000 people.

Tommy Lamm

Tommy Lamm who has come to Israel from Melbourne

One of its founders is Tommy Lamm who grew up in Melbourne and moved to Israel 39 years agp. “When they talk about a two-state solution, the Arabs have in mind taking down the settlements,” Lamm says. “Come and look at what they want to take down.” Lamm heads out of Jerusalem on the road to Hebron; before the second traffic light, he opens a Bible and points to Genesis 48, verse 7: “. . . Rachel died beside me in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath.” The verse is of great significance to Lamm: “Jews have been there for thousands of years. It’s not just real estate.”

Efrat is a massive development. It could be middle Australia – about 70 per cent of adults have degrees and some 65 doctors live in the town. It has four schools, 22 synagogues and at the last election voted for Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud or Avigdor Lieberman’s Ysrael Beiteinu: the new Israeli Government is very much their government.

Unlike many of his neighbours, Lamm has regular contact with a Palestinian – his gardener. As cultural groups that once brought Israelis and Palestinians together have largely broken down, younger Israelis, in particular, have little, if any, contact with Palestinians. “I say to my gardener, “How does one of your people take an axe and smash the head of a 13-year-old boy – can you explain that to me?” Lamm says, referring to a violent incident in the nearby Bat Ayin settlement in March, when a Palesinian killed one boy and injured another “I say, why do you have so many crazy people?”

Of course, the Jewish side have their crazies as well: in the case of the axe murder, the father of the injured boy was in jail for trying to blow up a Palestinian girls’ school. And Lamm was appalled by Baruch Goldstein, the New York doctor who in 1994 shot dead 29 Muslims in a Hebron mosque. “It’s outrageous and should never happen again,” he says, “but I’d like to hear Arabs say the same for guys who blow up buses.”

Israel’s resistance to Barack Obama’s call for an end to settlement activity has a biblical foundation: settlers say that Old Testment references to Jews having been in Judea and Samaria, as they call the West Bank, mean they have a right to live there. But there is also an economic dimension. As Israel’s housing shortage worsens, the settlements provide cheap homes, particularly for lower income ultra-Orthodox Jews who rely on welfare. They can buy a house in the Palestinian territories for half of what it would cost in Israel.

Tommy Lamm’s view of the world, as with so many Israelis, has been shaped by the Holocaust. He says his older brother, as a three-year-old in the former Czechoslovakia, hid with his mother in the cavity of a couch as German soldiers searched their house for Jews. “We are influenced tremendously by World War II, when Jews had no means to defend themselves,” says Lamm. “Today our fight is our very existence.” Lamm mixes Zionist zeal – “this is the cradle of Jewish religion and history [and] that is why the battle for this area is so volatile” – with pragmatism, but would he give up Efrat if it meant peace? He grins at the question but doesn’t reply.


American-born settler David Wilder

Twenty minutes down the road is Hebron, the Wild West of the West Bank. Out here, there’s no hint of compromise. Hebrew songs blare from the Gutnick Centre, named after its benefactor, Melbourne’s Joe Gutnick. The Jewish community here is an island surrounded by Palestinians, but the music leaves no doubt of their presence. Our settler guide American-born David Wilder, explains why the music is so loud and incessant. “It just gives a bit of a good feeling,” he says.

Hebron’s Jewish community is made up of about 90 families. It has one religious boys’ school, where students are taught to chant verses memorised from the Torah. The Jews can only live here due to the heavy presence of Israeli troops from four army bases nearby. The Israeli Defence Force provides weapons, mainly M-16s, to the settlers. Wilder says while lighter weapons such as the Glock pistol he carries require normal registration, the heavier weapons are less regulated. “The IDF distributes them to people who need them,” he says, adding that the army requires “as much of an assurance as you can have that people are sane.”

In Hebron scores of Palestinian shops have been closed, leaving basically Jewish-only neighbourhoods protected by Israeli soldiers. During a three-hour visit not a single Palestinian is to be seen in what used to be a thriving Pslestinian commercial centre. Swedish film-maker Terje Carlsson obtained footage for his documentary Welcome to Hebron of Jewish settler children throwing rocks at Palestinian children on their way to school, as an Israeli soldier stands and watches. The film shows settlers hiding behind soldiers as they taunt Palestinians with chants of “Slaughter the Arabs”, against a backdrop of graffiti that reads: “Gas the Arabs.”

Former Israeli soldier Yehuda Shaul, who was an IDF commander in Hebron tells the filmmaker: “Under 12 you have no criminal responsibility, the Israeli authorities can’t do anything to you, and for that reason the daily violence towards Palestinians is being carried out by little children.” Shaul echoes Ehud Olmert’s views, describing what is happening in Hebron and other areas as “our biggest sickness”, which Israelis would rather ignore. “We prefer to sit here, have a nice espresso, smoke a cigarette, but it’s our responsibility to do something.” He says the IDS has “sterilised” the streets for the settlers, who have begun moving into the shops and houses of the Palestinians who have left.

Contrast this with the language of Wilder, who never refers to “Palestinians” but instead to “them”, “the Arabs” and “these animals”. He opposes any change that would mean “they” had access to parts now sealed off. “What if they come in and one of them kills a man?” he asks. “Tell the widow and orphans it’s worth it for peace?” Wilder doesn’t speak to Palestinians. “There’s not much to talk about these days,” he says.

After Tommy Lamm, David Wilder looks hard-line. But not for long.

On the way out of Hebron, Wilder sees a woman waiting by the road and asks us to give her a lift back to Jerusalem. She seems a very politically aware hitchhiker, sitting in the back tearing out articles from newspapers and talking on one of two mobile phones. She introduces herself as Orit, which, she says, means “Light”. She turns out to be Orit Struck, spokesperson for the Hebron settlers.

She starts to chat about her children, and how her parents came from Hungary and Poland. She moved to Hebron from Jerusalem, she says, “because it is a holy place”. But as the trip goes on she becomes more strident. When the international push for Israel to accept a two-state solution is mentioned, she shouts that the rest of the world can “shut up!” “The international community did nothing during the Holocvaust,” she says. “The British would not use their bombs to bomb the railways tracks to the concentration camps.” The world has no right to tell Israel what to do, she says, because “everyone hates Jews”.

Asked about the Palestinians who have been here for more than 400 years, Struck’s voice darkens with contempt: “We have been here for thousands of years. This is our land,” she says. “They are our guests and if they want to stay they should behave as guests. I am nice to my guests. We came here 4000 years ago – we went away for 2000 years and now we’re back.”

In Israel every person has their take on the Israeli-Palestinians conflict, many of them measured and moderate. But Struck voices one that is encountered more frequently, including in advertisements on the front page of The Jerusalem Post: that Palestinians are fake. They are just Arabs who came to Israel 100 years ago, she says. “There are 22 Arab countries and these so-called Palestinians can go to those,” she says.

Meanwhile back in the Old City, Nasser Jaber fears he may never get his home back. Because of the fine following the scuffle outside his house, he will be prevented from renting any other premises or doing anything that requires a “clean” record. He’s been told to attend the police station to have his fingerprints and mugshot taken. He says any future employer or landlord will now be informed he has a criminal record. “I’m now a danger man,” he says, sarcastically.

In four months, Nasser Jaber has gone from a Palestinian looking to start a family and grow his business to someone who is now consumed by a sense of injustice. His anger is just one more drop in the ocean of hatred that is slowly drowning the Middle East.

John Lyons is The Australian’s Middle East correspondent.

Prisoners of Gaza


By Jordan Flaherty and Lily Keber

In the midst of a devastating military bombardment and continuing economic blockade, the people of Gaza are still demanding freedom. Palestinians complain that media attention has focused disproportionately on Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in 2006, while US media and politicians rarely speak out about the more than 11,000 Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, almost half of them without charges.

The prisoners come from all walks of life, from children and the elderly to members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, the democratically elected government.

Prisoners of Gaza features family members of prisoners, government representatives, and street protests, all of it shot from May-June in Gaza.

Producers: Jordan Flaherty and Lily Keber
Translation: Maher Salem and Shereen Naser

Jordan Flaherty is a writer and community organizer based in New Orleans. He was the first journalist with a national audience to write about the Jena Six case, and played an important role in bringing the story to worldwide attention. His post-Katrina writing in ColorLines Magazine shared a journalism award from New America Media for best Katrina-related coverage in the Ethnic press. Lily Keber is a documentary filmmaker and teacher living in New Orleans. Her film T. Don Hutto: America’s Family Prison brought the plight of family detention to national attention and continues to be used as an activism tool across the country. She currently is media trainer for New Orleans Video Voices, a grassroots media organization.

Posted by JNOUBIYEH at 9:33 AM

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I live in a tent, with no privacy

I live in a tent, with no privacy

And every time, she tries to understand what happened to her, she asks herself : what was my fault?, what’s going to happen to me in my tent?

Ilham, 30 years old, a mother of 6 , she lives in Al-atatra district , in the northern part of the Gaza strip. The Israeli war had a huge impact on her, it actually destroyed her house, her parent’s house and killed her brother.

Ilham and her family spent 25 days in one of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s schools (UNRWA), to take shelter from phosphorous missiles of death that was chasing all the population of the strip. She was saying: "Israeli armed forces bombarded our house with many missiles, destroyed its walls, set fire in its rooms, and spread darkness all around us (she meant the missiles fumes), to a point that we couldn’t breathe anymore… and after hours, during which we were facing death, the ambulance transported us to the hospital.

We moved to ASMA’A GAZA AL JADIDA school, looking for some security, since

We were fifty persons from different families, sleeping in the same room : men, women and children, I haven’t felt safe at all. I couldn’t close my eyes during the war and during all the period that we spent in the school, not mentioning the horrific sounds of the missiles and the rockets surrounding us from everywhere.

I’ve worn the niqab for several years, but when I found myself in the school with fifty other persons, most of them were men, in a room that didn’t exceed sixteen meters of surface, it forced me to abandon it. I lost my freedom during the war and even after it.

Now I live in a tent that doesn’t exceed eight meters, with no privacy. After being in that school, where I couldn’t even get the basic human needs, there was no water, the women had to go to the hospital of “dar Shefa” to take a shower.

we used to walk many miles each week or every other week, as a group of women, just for bathing, I had a feeling of humiliation and despair, especially when we were forced to leave the hospital, because of the high numbers of martyrs and victims, their bodies took over the whole place, moreover, the hospital is not a place for taking baths…In the war, my house was destroyed, all I own now is a tent that does not exceed few meters, my children and I sleep on the sand. My nights became like my days, everything has changed in my life after the 27th of December 2008. All I kept now is memories on which I live me and my children, till this day, I feel deeply oppressed . What was my fault? And why do I live in this humiliation? Who could bear what we are all facing?

In another scene, Ilham was smiling, she remembered that her husband came back to her today, and brought a present, from the ruins of their house, after his daily trip there, wishing to salvage some kitchen utensils among the rubles. Today he came back with the food-processor, it was a gift from her brother, the one that just killed in the war. Despite all her sadness for his death, she was so happy to have it back, and she was also glad to prepare with it some food and cookies for her children… but cooking for her kids was just a dream, a dream that was never fulfilled, in Gaza there were no food and no electricity…

Ilham taps on her son’s (Samed) shoulder, one year and a half, while holding him with her other hand, as if she were apologizing for what is happening to him, and for being unable to ease his suffering and agony after he breathed white phosphor, which exhausted his little body, in front of her six years old sister Ryman, who got into the conversation, saying : “I miss our home, I want to play with the swing that my dad made for me, so I don’t have to play in the street…”



August 22, 2009 at 9:32 am (DesertPeace Editorial, Ethnic Cleansing, Illegal Evictions, Illegal Settlements, Israel, Occupation, Palestine, Two State Solution, zionism)


There has been much talk lately of the ‘Two State Solution’ as a means of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Many western leaders have told the Netanyahu administration that this is the only road to a just peace in the region.

Netanyahu agrees! The ‘Two State Solution’ is the only way…. Two States, one for Israelis and the other for extreme rightwing settlers. BUT…… this is not what is meant by the ‘Two State Solution’…… BUT……this is what the Israeli government means.

As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prepares for his trip next week to England and Germany, an official in Berlin said Friday that urgent action is needed on the issue of settlements, Reuters reported.

“We and our partners the Americans have made very clear that we see the settlements issue as one of the biggest impediments to a two-state solution,” German Foreign Ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said. “There must be urgent progress on the settlements to make progress on Middle East peace.”

In a brief statement issued later Friday afternoon, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor rejected the comments, saying “these are disconnected statements, without any diplomatic context. These statements are not part of any diplomatic negotiations, they are unrelated to reality and distort it.”

The above in italics is taken from THIS report.

In the meantime, existing settlements are expanding, new settlements are being built, Palestinian families in East Jerusalem are being evicted from THEIR homes (by Supreme Court Order), and Jewish extremists are moving into those homes.

Netanyahu is not hiding anything from the world. His goals are clear and he intends to achieve them. What is to misunderstand?

WHAT IS TO MISUNDERSTAND????? Why is the United States still paying for this? Why have the nations in the west that have spoken out against these illegal settlements not done anything about it? WHERE ARE THE SANCTIONS? That’s what to misunderstand. There is nothing about zionism that is questionable. They will continue to do what they want, where they want, and if you don’t like it you are going to pay for it anyway.

So, in reality, it is the West that is misunderstood.



August 21, 2009 at 10:38 am (Illegal Settlements, Israel, Occupied West Bank, Palestine, Photography)

Look who is building the settlements…..

palestinians in maale adumim

Palestinian laborers work at a construction site in Ma’aleh Adumin.

Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski
The settlements will continue to grow as long as the Americans keep supporting them…..

huckabee in maale adumim

Former Arkansas governor and US presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee, right, poses for a photo with Mayor Benny Kashriel, during his visit to Ma’aleh Adumim, near Jerusalem.

Photo: AP

Ramadan Karim

Holy Ramadan in Gaza:Exposed to Chemical Polution and Blockade
8/21/2009 03:18:00 PM Author Editor Publisher Hiyam Noir

Ramadan in Gaza 2009

Hiyam Noir

GAZA - The Holy fasting month Ramadan, starts today - and the life in Gaza is unbearable.The Israelis chemical warfare on Gaza has seized, though the Israelis physiological war on Gaza continues, killing the Palestinians slowly. Gaza residents encounter frequent electric cuts and the blackouts continue to impede public services.The border crossings to the outside world from Gaza are still sealed.1.6 million people, the residents of Gaza are denied their legal Human Rights to leave and return to their own homeland.

In the Holy Ramadan, Muslims over the world use to give to the sick and poor.The Muslims in Gaza fears that there will be no food to feed their own sick and needy.The Israelis prevent delivery of fresh food.and gifts from friends and relatives outside Gaza,and Humanitarian aid convoys are intentionally delayed or simply denied entry shipment of medication, basic household goods, and much needed, learning books and notebooks, to the school-children.

Life in Gaza Exposed to Chemical Components

In Gaza the the children and young ones are denied to grow up healthy, the adults are denied to grow old, their natural lifespan is been shortened by cancer,diabetes and other fatal diseases.
After the Israelis many chemical wars on Gaza, the population across the densely populated enclave, are exposed to unusually high amounts of toxic contaminants.The soil, the air and the water is contaminated,infested by allotrope's as arsenic and white phosphorous, radioactive uranium,and other metallic chemical elements such as, lithium, the pesticide DDT, the heavy metal mercury and lead.

The routes of exposure to these environmental chemicals are inhalation, ingestion, and absorption through the skin.( from air, soil, the water, food and consumer products).Traces of man made lethal compounds have been found in body tissues and fluids, as a result of exposure to chemical contaminants,components of these lethal agents have also been found in new born and small children from breast feeding.

Exposure of contaminants into an environment (ecosystem,)causes instability, disorder, harm to living organisms, including human beings.Evidence from analysis of food and water as well as from samples of fluids and tissues reveal that the Gazan’s have unusual high amounts of some of these lethal contaminants. In other words the human population in Gaza have been poisoned, and it is highly likable that future generations whose parents were exposed to lethal contaminants,will suffer from fatal deceases, genetic birth defects and congenital deformities.

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Hariri in Saudi Arabia to Spend a “Private Visit” Forgetting Cabinet Formation

Hariri in Saudi Arabia to Spend a “Private Visit” Forgetting Cabinet Formation
Hanan Awarekeh

22/08/2009 Forgetting or pretending to forget that he has a government to form; Prime-designate Saad Hariri decided to leave every thing behind and went to spend “a private visit” in Saudi Arabia.

Two months have passed on his designation and the PM-designate has failed to form a unity government that would relieve the Lebanese and make them feel that they have a Cabinet to follow up their daily issues.

Hariri left Beirut for Saudi Arabia on Friday evening on a “private visit that will last for a few days.” This vacation did not surprise any of the Lebanese since they are sure that the birth of the new Cabinet would take a lot of time before it sees the light.

Before leaving, Hariri has not forgotten to congratulate the Lebanese on the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan, expressing hope that this month would "be an opportunity to overcome problems."

"I hope that all political groups as well as the Lebanese media would seize this opportunity to rise above wounds, to forget the harm, in order to renounce civil strife and put an end to political wrangling," Hariri said.

Meanwhile, An-Nahar daily reported on Saturday that President Michel Sleiman is expected to hold an Iftar dinner at the Presidential Palace in Baabda on September 1, to which all political parties will be invited. The newspaper also reported the president will make a speech during the dinner calling for all parties to reach common ground and focus on the key events in Lebanon, especially with regard to the cabinet formation.

According to press reports Saturday, the political assistant of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah Hajj Hussein Khalil told the president and the premier-designate that Hezbollah will handle efforts to reach an understanding with MP Michel Aoun over his pre-conditions for joining a future government.

A ministerial source in the Change and Reform bloc told As-Safir daily that the opposing team was not being "respectful of the rules to form a government."

"For the last time we say they cannot move past us, or form a government without the Free Patriotic Movement," he said, adding "they can discuss with us the distribution of portfolios, their size and number, but they cannot impose who we want to represent the movement in the government."

"We are not prepared to enter bazaars, full stop. If they are capable of forming a government without the FPM, then let them do that if they can," the source said.

On another level, a leading member of Hezbollah slammed accusations the party was obstructing the cabinet shape-up and has reneged on its promises to premier-designate Saad Hariri to mediate with Aoun. "All this talk about Hezbollah’s pledge to Hariri to mediate with Aoun over his demands for cabinet portfolios is mere lies and baseless claims," he told Al-Manar Channel on Friday.

"If Hezbollah really has an obligation toward Hariri to convince Aoun, then what was the purpose of the meetings between Hariri and his adviser with both (Telecoms Minister Jebran) Bassil and Aoun?" he asked.

In an interview with Free Lebanon radio, Social Affairs Minister Mario Aoun said that Lebanon First bloc MP Ammar Houri’s comments on Saturday represent an opening that may lead to the resolution of obstacles in the cabinet formation process.

Houri reiterated the majority’s commitment to Hariri’s call for all parties to refrain from engaging in political disputes in the media.

The Social Affairs Minister also called on Hariri to contact Free Patriotic Movement leader MP General Michel Aoun to discuss the cabinet formation.

Aoun described the FPM leader’s demand to be granted the interior ministry as “rightful”, especially after the Roumieh Prison incident in which a group of Fatah al-Islam inmates attempted to break out of the country’s most notorious prison on Tuesday.

Aoun reiterated the opposition’s commitment to the 15-10-5 cabinet formula, which grants the majority 15 ministers, the opposition 10 and the president five. He added that the formula is still valid. “Foreign countries are obstructing the cabinet formation,” he said, adding that Hezbollah is targeted more often than the FPM to encourage it not to enter the new cabinet.

Al-Liwaa daily also said that Hariri has asked Speaker Nabih Berri for the names of ministers who will represent Amal in the new government during talks in Nijmeh Square. It said that Berri "preferred to wait for the outcome of ongoing efforts to resolve the repercussions of MP Walid Jumblatt's recent position in addition to other demands before presenting his nominations for cabinet."



August 21, 2009 at 7:32 am (Economy, Guest Post, Israel, Palestine)

Last week, Amb. Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal titled, West Bank Success Story . Given the level of half-truths and deliberate attempt to misread the reader, I was inspired to submit my own op-ed (see below) which is published in today’s (Aug 21) Wall Street Journal. If you are so inclined, submit a letter to the editor (keep concise and email to or make an online comment to support the argument that real development and military occupation cannot co- exist.


Israel Still Strangles the Palestinian Economy

To thrive we need unfettered access to global markets.


Palestinians are as eager as anyone to see positive economic development for their tormented country. But they know full well that real economic progress awaits their release from Israeli military occupation (West Bank, East Jerusalem) and siege (Gaza Strip).

Consider the recent media promotion of the Netanyahu government’s view that the occupied West Bank is witnessing rapid economic growth. Thomas Friedman picked up on that theme in his New York Times column, as did Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, in this newspaper. The selective economic data they provide ignore the reality: Occupied Palestinian territory is not a sovereign country where traditional economic measures apply.

I was the manager who oversaw the establishment of the first modern mall in the West Bank—the Plaza Shopping Center in El Bireh. I can attest that the success of a West Bank mall rests on a thin layer of elite consumer privilege poised precariously over a chasm of widespread disempowerment. Until West Bank Palestinians gain free and open access to the world economy, beyond the markets of the occupying power, major enterprises in Palestinian towns will suffer.

Objective analyses by the World Bank suggest that Israel’s repressive practices will not permit the Palestinian economy to develop meaningfully.

On water, a bank report from April 2009 notes that the “availability of water resources is highly disparate, with fresh water per capita in Israel approximately four times that of WBG [West Bank and Gaza].”

On mobility: “In the West Bank, restrictions on movement of people and access to natural resources has stifled economic growth.”

On security: “Recurrent destruction of trees, private homes and public infrastructure, as well as [Israeli] settlers’ encroachments on private land create a permanent state of insecurity.”

On trade: “[Palestinians] exporting through Israel is becoming more difficult and . . . the current alternative through Jordan is severely limited. For Palestinian exporters to effectively compete on the international market they must be allowed to use modern door-to-door logistical systems.”

David Craig, World Bank country director for the West Bank and Gaza, gave a realistic assessment in summing up a December bank report: “The Palestinian economy has the potential for dramatic growth, even in the midst of the current global recession. This can only be achieved by the private sector through export oriented growth. The new [Israeli] restrictions described in this report undermine this goal.”
Israel’s stranglehold over Palestinian economic resources is ongoing. Israel occupies or controls Palestinian land, airspace and electromagnetic spectrum used for telecommunications. By refusing to permit an already-licensed second Palestinian cellular operator to launch, Israel is putting hundreds of new jobs on hold and blocking the first step to liberalizing the Palestinian telecommunications market. I was personally involved in establishing the first Palestinian telecommunications operator in 1996 and can attest to the ongoing hinderance of Israeli practices.

Peace talk is cheap; actions by Israel that would make real peace—even economic peace—a reality are still the exception rather than the rule. I do not disparage any progress that has been made but, viewed in context, it is no more than window dressing.

Meanwhile, the continued brutal subjugation of Gaza and coerced Judaization of Arab East Jerusalem call into serious question Israel’s true intentions. Absent a political framework to secure Palestinian freedom and independence, “economic peace” initiatives only facilitate the crime of occupation.

Mr. Bahour is a Palestinian-American businessman from Youngstown, Ohio, who lives in the West Bank.

BARGHOUTI: Derailing Injustice – Palestinian Civil Resistance to the “Jerusalem LightRail”


August 21, 2009

swimming against the tide

by Omar Barghouti – Jerusalem Quarterly, Summer 2009, 38


“Swimming against the tide” is regarded by many cultures, including Arab culture, as unwise, if not altogether irrational and desperately futile; swimming against the tide and hoping to reach your desired destination would, then, defy common sense and call into question one’s sanity. Taking this defiance to a new level, the Palestinian civil society campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)1 and its international supporters in the solidarity movement have been contributing to resisting Israel’s multi-faceted oppression against the indigenous people of Palestine by mobilizing international civil society to apply effective, non violent and sustained pressure against it until it fully complies with its obligations under international law and respects Palestinian rights.

The campaign against the “Jerusalem Light Rail” is a case in point, that tellingly illustrates the potency and potential of such a struggle as well as the challenges stacked up against it.

“I believe that this [Jerusalem Light Rail] should be done, and in any event, anything that can be done to strengthen Jerusalem, construct it, expand it and sustain it for eternity as the capital of the Jewish people and the united capital of the State of Israel, should be done.”

- Ariel Sharon, August 2005

Realizing Herzl’s Vision

According to its official brochure,2 the Jerusalem Light Rail, JLR, is intended to fulfill Theodore Herzl’s vision of Jerusalem: “modern neighborhoods with electric lines, tree-lined boulevards… a metropolis of the 20th century.” The other crucial element of Herzl’s Eurocentric vision for the entire land of Palestine as a Jewish state was even more faithfully adhered to by the project planners.

Jerusalem light railThus, while the professed goals of the JLR cite typical urban planning priorities, such as relieving traffic congestion and renewal of the city center, the actual map of the JLR’s planned route and stations reveal the unspoken underlying objective of the project: to irreversibly entrench the “Judaization” of Jerusalem3 and perpetuate its current reality as a unified city with a predominantly Jewish population under Israeli control. By connecting its most significant colonies, or “settlement blocs,” illegally built on the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) including East Jerusalem,4 in contravention of international law,5 Israel hopes to use the JLR – as part of a comprehensive, long-term strategy that includes the Wall and other repressive measures6 – to cement the integration of those blocs into an ever sprawling “Greater Jerusalem,” thereby creating the third most important fact on the ground, after the 1948 nakba7 with the mass forcible displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians that accompanied it and the 1967 military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

The political and legal implications of the JLR cannot be fully appreciated unless seen within the context of Israel’s strategic plans for Jerusalem, particularly the “secret plan”8 sponsored by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and Mayor of Jerusalem to “strengthen Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.” This plan, exposed recently in Haaretz, aims at creating Israeli “hegemony” over the area around the Old City, “inspired by extreme right-wing ideology.” A recent Palestinian position paper9 on the JLR states that, “The overarching policy framework for Jerusalem is illustrated most fully by the Master Plan 2020 document (2004), which outlines measures to prevent the growth of Palestinian communities and encourage the growth of Jewish settlements, with the goal of creating a 70:30 ratio of Jews to Palestinians, as stipulated by government decisions. Doing this involves ethnically cleansing Palestinian communities from Jerusalem through a variety of mechanisms, including the Wall and the revocation of identity papers.”

The JLR is the brainchild of the Jerusalem Transportation Master Plan, jointly administered by the Ministry of Transport and the Jerusalem Municipality. Its strategic role in Israel’s colonial plans for Jerusalem stems from the fact that it purports to treat the burgeoning inadequacy of the existing Israeli road and mass transit system in accommodating the fast rising needs associated with the uncontrolled growth of Israel’s illegal colonies in the occupied territory, especially since the signature of the Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1993, a period that has witnessed almost a doubling of the population of Jewish settlers in the OPT. As the official route of the JLR reveals,10 the tram’s various routes will predominantly intended to serve Israel’s illegal colonies in or surrounding occupied East Jerusalem, such as: Atarot Airport, Neve Ya’kov, Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot, Har Ha-Tzofim Campus of the Hebrew University and Gilo, among others.

Perpetuating Injustice: The Legal Case against the JLR

Based on the Fourth Geneva Convention, numerous UN resolutions have condemned as illegal Israel’s colonies (settlements) that are built on what is internationally recognized to be occupied Palestinian land. The most recent reaffirmation of this verdict of international law came from the International Court of Justice, which on 9th July 2004 issued its advisory opinion against Israel’s Wall and colonies built in the OPT,11 a ruling that is widely recognized as nothing less than a legal and political watershed in the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s occupation. Infrastructure and other projects that serve these colonies or act in any way to perpetuate their existence are, by extension, illegal. Not only does the JLR significantly contribute to Israeli designs to make its illegal annexation of occupied Palestinian territory irreversible; it also provides the colonies with a crucial service, connecting them to Israel. Accordingly, the JLR is considered an integral part of Israel’s illegal colonial regime and, therefore, a violation of international law that may amount to a war crime. Companies that participate in building and running the JLR or in constructing, maintaining and servicing Israeli colonies,12 more generally, can therefore be regarded as “aiding and abetting” these crimes.

Furthermore, citing the Hague Convention IV on Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, 18 October 1907, the PLO’s Negotiation Support Unit argues:13

“As an occupant, Israel has no sovereign rights or title to the OPT, including East Jerusalem. Consequently, it may only undertake changes in East

Jerusalem and the rest of the OPT for the benefit of the occupied Palestinian population or for military necessity. As the Light Rail neither caters to the needs of Palestinian civilians nor serves any genuine military purpose, the Light Rail constitutes an illegal change to East Jerusalem and neighbouring West Bank areas.”


The above furnished the legal basis of a lawsuit in France against Veolia and Alstom, two of the constituent companies involved in the consortium that signed the contract with the State of Israel to build and manage the JLR project. Both companies are French conglomerates involved in vast projects in dozens of countries around the world, mostly focusing on, inter alia, transportation, water and sanitation. The unprecedented case, presented before the court of Nanterre by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Association France-Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) in 2007,14 while still being deliberated, has made enough progress to inspire similar action elsewhere against companies implicated in the JLR project. In April of this year, already, the High Court of Nanterre, France (Tribunal de Grande Instance de Nanterre), according to an AFPS press statement,15 has thwarted relentless efforts by Veolia and Alstom to have the case dismissed by declaring that it has jurisdiction to hear the legal claim brought by AFPS against the companies regarding the construction and operation of a light railway in East Jerusalem. Moreover, in response to a claim by Veolia and Alstom that the French court lacks jurisdiction in this case, based on the fact that the state of Israel enjoys sovereign immunity from being sued in foreign courts, the Nanterre court ruled that:

“[A]part from the fact that the State of Israel is not party to this action, this state could not seriously have standing in relation to disputed contracts in the guise of a sovereign state since this state is in fact an occupying power of the area in the West Bank where the light rail system is being built and where its exploitation is contentious, an area recognized by the international community and the International Court of Justice as being part of the Palestinian territory.”

In the United Kingdom, for instance, Daniel Machover, a prominent attorney and co founder of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, has adopted an innovative legal approach to challenge Veolia and other companies in its category. Machover invoked the UK 2006 Public Procurement Regulations, which is the British implementing measure of EU Directive 2004/18/EC16 to argue that a local authority may be subjected to legal challenge if it does not agree to exclude Veolia as an economic operator from a public bid. Specifically, he bases his case on Article 45 of the EU Directive, which includes the provision that any economic operator “may be excluded from participation in a contract” if it “has been guilty of grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting authorities can demonstrate,” among others clauses.

Machover argues that this type of discretionary decision by a public body in the UK can be subjected to a legal challenge in the High Court. It is expected that, presented with hard evidence of Veolia’s “grave professional misconduct,” coupled with substantial public pressure, and a credible threat of High Court involvement, local authorities may opt to exclude Veolia to avoid the trouble. If this approach yields positive results, it is likely to be emulated across EU states, where the same laws apply.

Palestinian Civil Society Fights Back

Despite the ICJ’s unambiguous ruling on the Wall and settlements, no serious efforts were exerted by the Palestinian leadership, the Arab League, the UN, the EU or any other international power to implement the far-reaching recommendations in the advisory opinion, effectively allowing Israel to continue its voracious colonization project in the occupied West Bank. This astounding failure by the so-called international community to hold Israel accountable to international law, or at least to end its unchallenged impunity, precipitated enough frustration and anger among Palestinians everywhere to trigger new thinking on how to most effectively attain justice and comprehensive peace that is based on it.

On the 9th July 2005, on the first anniversary of the ICJ’s ruling against the Wall, more than 170 Palestinian political parties, unions, organizations and networks, representing a substantive majority of Palestinian civil society, issued a historic Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS,17 against Israel until it fulfills its obligations under international law and ends its three basic forms of injustice – occupation and colonization, institutionalized racial discrimination, and denial of UN-sanctioned refugee rights. The appeal said:

We, representatives of Palestinian civil society, call upon international civil society organizations and people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era. We appeal to you to pressure your respective states to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel. We also invite conscientious Israelis to support this Call, for the sake of justice and genuine peace.

Coming a year after the Palestinian call for an academic and cultural boycott against Israel18 and inspired by the century-old Palestinian civil resistance to the Zionist conquest in its various manifestations and, more recently, by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the BDS Call expanded the scope of the earlier appeal to include all domains: economic, financial and sports, among others. While BDS was at first received with mixed reactions by international civil society and vigorously opposed by Israel, its lobby groups and support networks in the West, it succeeded in a fairly short period of time in putting the Israel boycott on the agenda of international solidarity groups and some trade unions and faith-based organizations. With its distinctly rights-based, approach, the BDS Call appealed to wide sectors in international civil society, inspiring and mobilizing them into launching effective, context-sensitive and sustainable campaigns against Israel and institutions – Israeli and international – that are complicit in its occupation and other forms of oppression.

Support for BDS grew steadily and sometimes impressively19 ever since the Call was launched. Palpable gains were made after the Palestinian leadership of the movement, the BDS National Committee, or BNC,20was announced in May 2008 and after that leadership succeeded, in partnership with Mewando, the leading Basque solidarity network, in organizing the first international BDS conference, the Bilbao Initiative,21 as well as in issuing a ground breaking, in-depth analysis of Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people.22 The illegal and patently immoral Israeli siege of the occupied Gaza Strip, with its direct and well-documented human impact, which includes a sharp rise in poverty, disease and mortality rates, and that culminated in the recent war of aggression. These factors played an undeniable role in turning BDS into a truly global movement, winning the crucial endorsement of a number of key intellectual and cultural figures as well as an increasing number of major trade unions and other civil society associations. As a result, there was a surge in creative and institutionally sustainable BDS measures adopted by individuals and groups across the world, indicated beyond doubt that a new, unprecedented era of Palestine solidarity has arrived, evoking memories of the fight against South African apartheid.23

In this context, the ground was prepared for Palestinian and international civil society to take concrete action against the light rail project in Jerusalem. In fact, the BNC has directly appealed to and worked with solidarity movements in several countries to launch or expand and co-ordinate campaigns against companies involved in the JLR project as the most effective means of resisting the project.

Derailing Veolia and Alstom

One of the earlier BNC efforts to counter JLR-implicated corporations was the appeal24 sent to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and the Civic Coalition for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem, urging the Saudi government not to award Alstom a $2.5 billion contract to build a power plant. On top of presenting the legal, political and moral arguments against Alstom, the document detailed the historic commitment of Saudi Arabia to the Palestinian cause in general and the question of occupied Jerusalem in particular, concluding that awarding this lucrative contract to a company that is colluding in Israel’s declared intent to further colonize and “Judaize” the Holy City would, for all intents and purposes, undermine these unique commitments, not to mention obligations under international law. Needless to say, the Saudi government has yet to respond to the appeal, let alone heed it. In fact, according to a recent report in the Dubai-based Gulf News,25 “Alstom is part of a consortium awarded a $1.8 billion (Dh6.6 billion) civil works contract in March for the Makkah-Madinah railway, the Haramain Express.” It is a bitter irony that Saudi Arabia is allowing the same company that is unapologetically complicit in colonizing Jerusalem that is regarded in Islam as a holy city, to build a railway connecting Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina. This has prompted even the normally complacent Palestinian Authority to register an official complaint with the Saudis and try to convince them to scrap Alstom’s involvement in the Haramain Express.26

In Europe, however, the scene was friendlier for the campaign against the JLR partner companies. At the aforementioned Bilbao Initiative, human rights lawyers, activists and trade unionists, in full coordination with the BDS National Committee, launched several focused BDS campaigns, targeting corporations and institutions that are unmistakably and quite manifestly complicit in aspects of Israel’s multifaceted system of oppression against the Palestinians. Thus the “Derail Veolia” campaign was born, aiming to coordinate already existing efforts in several countries and/or launching new ones to pressure Veolia, as well as Alstom, to withdraw from the illegal project by threatening them with public boycott campaigns if they failed to do so.

The examples below are from the most significant local campaigns against the two French companies involved in the JLR project shed some light on the innovative and principled tactics used and the impressive achievements reached to date.

After a long pressure campaign initiated by one determined and resourceful human rights activist and eventually endorsed by influential civil society groups in the Netherlands, Dutch bank ASN, which identifies itself as an “ethical bank” that upholds international law and human rights, decided in November 2006 to divest from Veolia Transport and other companies that benefit from Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.27 The decision followed months of meticulous research, networking and employing public awareness initiatives undertaken by the campaign organizers. United Civilians for Peace, a coalition of Dutch organizations advocating peace, human rights and development produced a well-researched document detailing the links between Dutch companies and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. The Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign was also involved in the campaign at various stages, providing empirical data and advice. Simultaneously, questions were raised in the Dutch parliament about a specific Dutch company involved in the construction of the illegal Wall. Veolia’s initial claims that it was not aware that its involvement in the JLR was illegal rang hollow given the fact that Amnesty International in France had issued a clearly worded document28 stating just that, months earlier, and had warned Veolia’s management not to get involved in this project.

Together, these developments led to xtensive media coverage of the whole issue of complicity as well as legal and ethical responsibility of companies, which in turn raised the level of pressure on ASN Bank significantly, convincing it to start a process of investigation of Veolia’s involvement in the objectionable project and, eventually, to end its investments in it.

A Swedish coalition of faith-based groups, led by Diakonia, was quick to follow suit. During Israel’s atrocious war on Gaza, the Stockholm community council announced29 that Veolia, which had been the operator of the Stockholm County metro for the past ten years, lost the contract for the coming eight years. The contract, worth 3.5 billion euros (approximately $4.5 billion), is considered the largest ongoing public contract procurement process in Europe. And although the Council stated that their decision was based solely on commercial considerations, the massive public campaign waged by Swedish groups against Veolia in the months leading to the decision could not but have been a decisive factor for any politician hoping to get re-elected.

Adri Nieuwhof, a human rights advocate that has played a leading role in exposing European corporate complicity in Israel’s occupation, had this to say about the impressive Swedish public campaign against Veolia:

Swedish activists informed the public about the role of companies in benefiting from the occupation through several actions. The Swedish non-governmental organization Diakonia’s research on [the] Mul-T-Lock factory in the Barkan Industrial Park in a West Bank settlement led to the October 2008 decision of [factory] owner Assa Abloy to divest from the company. At that time Veolia was bidding for an eight-year, $4.5 billion contract to run the subway in Stockholm County. Swedish journalists questioned politicians about Veolia’s role in an Israeli tramway project that links Israeli settlements and normalizes the illegal situation of the settlements. At the Give Veolia the Red Card event on 15th November 2008, passengers on the Stockholm subway were asked to attach a red card to their clothes to protest Veolia’s involvement in the Jerusalem tramway on occupied Palestinian territory. 30

Weeks after this meaningful defeat for Veolia in Sweden, its partner in the JLR project suffered as momentous a setback when the Swedish national pension fund, AP7, decided to exclude Alstom from its investment portfolio.31 Considering the size of the Swedish fund, $15 billion, this decision was bound to have serious consequences for Alstom and other companies in a similar situation. This time, however, the decision was explicitly justified on the grounds of Alstom’s involvement in the illegal JLR project, reflecting on the one hand the intensifying discontent among the Swedish public, especially after Gaza, with companies that profit from unethical and illegal Israeli projects and, on the other hand, their determination to make them – literally – pay for it.

Towards the end of March, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in the West Midlands, United Kingdom, celebrated another significant victory in the campaign against the JLR. The Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council decided not to consider further Veolia’s bid for the ‘Waste Improvement Plan’ contract, which is worth about $1.5 billion over 20 years.32 Again, the Council insists that the decision was commercial, not political. And, again, the public pressure that was brought to bear before the decision looked too sweeping to ignore.

Elsewhere in the UK, several local campaigns are sprouting to derail Veolia from a number of large public works contracts. From Hampshire County to Liverpool to Camden to South Yorkshire, local authorities are facing mounting political, and sometimes legal pressure from Palestine solidarity groups, mainly associated with PSC, to exclude Veolia from bidding for public projects.

Most recently, Veolia started feeling the heat at home. The Greater Bordeaux local government announced that it was awarding – on commercial grounds, of course – a $1 billion contract for the biggest urban network in France to Veolia’s competitor, despite intense lobbying by Veolia. La plateforme BDS Bordeaux marked this achievement saying, “In fact, Veolia’s involvement in the situation of [Israeli] apartheid has already led to its loss of several contracts, and this is just the beginning.”33

Artistic Resistance

In Australia, the campaign against Veolia’s subsidiary, Connex, took on an entirely new shape. Award winning visual artist, Van Thanh Rudd, created a stir in Melbourne, Australia with his installation “Economy of Movement – A Piece of Palestine.”34

Van Thanh Rudd


Rudd’s installation, which looks like a museum display, shows a stone sitting upon a glass base. A panel hanging behind it reads: “The stone exhibited is from East Jerusalem (occupied Palestinian territory). It was thrown at an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) tank by a Palestinian youth.” Another panel to the right reads: “IDF tanks are protecting French companies Veolia (Connex) and Alstom as they conduct illegal operations on occupied Palestinian territory.” Rudd explained his motives saying, “I thought it would be a great opportunity to make artwork that would clearly outline Veolia’s illegal operations on occupied Palestinian territory.”

Taste of Victory

In an unexpected turn of events, and after months of intensive lobbying and awareness-raising by the Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, Haaretz reported35 that Veolia was “abandoning” the JLR and was even “trying to sell its 5% stake in Citypass, the light rail consortium.” According to the report, “The organization based itself on an article in French law that allows the court to void business agreements, signed by French companies, that violate international law.” However, it cites “political pressure” and the loss of “major projects in Europe because of its involvement in the Jerusalem job” were the “real reason” for Veolia’s withdrawal from the JLR, according to unnamed observers.

Another victory came from a more expected quarter. The London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission recently reported36 that “Tehran’s mayor scrapped plans for Veolia to have a key role in the city’s urban transport system.” The BNC had sent a letter to the Iranian leadership last May through European NGOs in Geneva, during the UN Durban Review conference, reminding Tehran of its commitments and obligations to contribute to the defense of Jerusalem against Israel’s colonial designs and urging it to exclude Veolia and Alstom from all Iranian public works contracts due to the companies’ involvement in the illegal JLR project.

Despite Veolia’s reported announcement that it was withdrawing from the JLR, the Derail Veolia and Alstom Campaign “plans to keep the pressure on Veolia and Alstom until the companies end their services to Israel’s activities and projects that are in violation of international law,” as stated by Adri Nieuwhof.37 Specifically, Veolia is still involved in providing bus services that link Jerusalem with illegal colonies and in the dumping of waste from Israel and its settlements in the Tovlan landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley.38

Final Remarks

From Melbourne to Stockholm to Bordeaux to the West Midlands, companies implicated in the JLR project are not just facing symbolic protests by marginalized demonstrators; they are experiencing real, deep losses that many indicators show are directly connected with their JLR involvement. What initially seemed like a desperate swim against the tide to reach the shores of justice is increasingly looking like a great wind that may well cause the tide itself to be reversed.

Omar Barghouti is an independent analyst, human rights advocate and a founding member of the Palestinian civil society campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel (


1 The BDS Call, issued on 9 July 2005, was endorsed by over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions, organizations and networks, representing Palestinians under occupation, in Israel, and in exile. The Call and list of endorsers are at: http://

2 Eng_brochure.pdf

3 In August 2007, then UN special reporter for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, Prof. John Dugard, described the Wall to the UN General Assembly in saying, “The 75-km wall being built in East Jerusalem is now almost complete …. This wall, which is built through Palestinian neighbourhoods and separates Palestinians from Palestinians, is an exercise in social engineering, designed to achieve the Judaization of Jerusalem by reducing the number of Palestinians in the city. It cannot conceivably be justified on security grounds.” efce525585256c38006eacae/07fc06140216684 18525736b005c8a82!OpenDocument

4 While East Jerusalem is recognized by the United Nations as part of the Palestinian territory occupied by Israel in 1967, the rest of the city, now called “West Jerusalem,” was also occupied militarily by Zionist forces in 1948, in violation of the partition plan that envisioned placing the entire city under international jurisdiction.

5 Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically prohibits the occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. When extensive appropriation of property is involved, without military necessity, the infringement may amount to a war crime: menu3/b/92.htm

6 In his March 2009 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Prof. Richard Falk, the current UN special reporter for human rights in the OPT, states that, “there are a variety of concerns about the Palestinian future in East Jerusalem, and allegations that Israel is engaged in a subtle, but cumulatively very efficient, process of ‘ethnic cleansing’ to ensure Jewish demographic dominance of the whole of Jerusalem. A variety of practices have elicited Palestinian complaints, and seem validated by independent observers … .” http:// Falk_OralStatement_Gaza.html

7 For more on this see: Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. (Oxford: One World Publications, 2007)

8 html

9 The Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and the Civic Coalition for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem, A call to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia not to contract Alstom Ltd. its new power plant in Shoaiba: briefing%20Alstom.pdf

10 See the map in the brochure at: http://www. brochure.pdf

11 In its Advisory Opinion titled Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the ICJ stated, “The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law. files/131/1677.pdf

12 The Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace keeps an up-to-date list of Israeli and international companies implicated in violations of international law in the OPT: http://www.

13 Negotiation Support Unit. Jerusalem Light Rail Fact Sheet. March 2007.

14 html (French)

15 php3?id_article=11680

16 do?uri=CELEX:32004L0018:EN:NOT



19 For a partial list of international organizational endorsers of BDS see: http://www.bdsmovement. net/?q=node/139

20 For more on the BNC’s make up and activities see:



23 For more on this see: Omar Barghouti, Our South Africa Moment Has Arrived. http://www. php?id=14921

24 briefing%20Alstom.pdf

25 East/10318479.html

26 East/10318479.html

27 shtml

28 informer/la_chronique/mars_2006_sommaire/ israel_et_territoires_occupes



31 Ibid.

32 asp?m_id=1&l1_id=4&l2_id=25&Content_ ID=546

33 This is based on a rough English translation of the original French original statement at:
http:// 9&type=communique&lesujet=Boycott

34 shtml

35 html


37 shtml

38 php?id=581


See also The Connex Dossier prepared by Jerome Small, Socialist Alternative and Sonja Karkar, Australians for Palestine/Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia

Connex dossier

Download pdf file