Hackney Gazette: “Blacklist Veolia over Israel,” campaigners urge Hackney Council

Originally reported on Hackney Gazette, 21 Nov 2012

by Emma Bartholomew, Senior Reporter

Campaigners have urged Hackney Council to help block awarding a massive multi-billion pound waste services contract to Veolia, because of the services it provides to illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

The North London Waste Association (NLWA) contract with LondonWaste comes to an end in two years, and Veolia is down to the last two bidders in both the fuel use and waste services contracts – with a combined worth of up to £4billion over 25 years.

However the company’s links with the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been questioned, and campaigners say its tender should be blacklisted.

As well as owning a share in the CityPass consortium tram which connects Jerusalem with the occupied territories which are considered illegal under international law, it also provides buses, waste, water and sewrage services to the illegal settlements.

Cllr Ian Rathbone is due to introduce a deputation to the council tonight from Caroline Day, urging the council’s two NWLA representatives – Samantha Lloyd and Feryal Derirci – to help veto Veolia’s bid.

“Without Veolia the settlements would struggle to be maintained because every community needs waste management and water facilities,” Ms Day said.

“The infrastructure tightens the hold of the settlements over Palestinian land, it entrenches the occupation and it’s aiding and abetting war crimes.”

She continued: “When you go there, it’s clear to see the horrendous impact the settlements are having on Palestinian life, they confiscate the best areas of Palestinian land on which the agrarian society depends.”

Veolia says it sold the Tolvan landfill last summer, although campaigners say they have not seen any documents to prove it.

“Even if they sold this facility that would still be illegal, it would still be selling an illegal facility on stolen land,” said Ms Day.

Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories has stepped in and written to NLWA members, urging them not to select Veolia for pubic contracts.

“I agree with the increasing number of experts in international law that argue that any decision by the NLWA to provide access to public funds to Veolia may contravene the UK’s international legal obligation not to facilitate Israeli violations of international law,” he said.

But a spokesman for the NLWA said legal advice had been taken: “The advice which has remained consistent is that those matters cannot and therefore will not be taken into account.”

A Veolia spokesman said the company has a presence in Israel through operating local subsidiaries owned by Veolia Israel.

“In relation to the Occupied Territories, there are no current plans to undertake any further activities or to service the Israeli settlements situated therein,” he added.

Two representatives from all seven north London boroughs, Islington, Barnet, Waltham Forest, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, and Hackney are entitled to vote and a decision on the two-year tendering process will be made by January.

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