A French transportation company, Veolia, that has been the target of a campaign by human rights groups around the world for its investment in Israeli settlements, has been denied a contract in West London – leading supporters of the boycott campaign to claim credit.Over the last six months campaigners lobbied Councillors and Council officials to exclude Veolia from the contract and submitted a letter to the WLWA – signed by nearly 600 local residents – documenting Veolia’s direct complicity in grave breaches of international and humanitarian law in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The West London Waste Authority (‘WLWA’) decided this week to deny the French multinational Veolia from the £485 million contract covering 1.4 million inhabitants of the London boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond-upon-Thames, for treatment of residual domestic waste.
The reasons behind the decision by the WLWA to exclude Veolia are commercially confidential, but human rights campaigners say they are convinced their pressure campaign made an impact on the decision.
Campaigners pointed out that Veolia helped build and is involved in operating a tram-line which links Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank. In addition, the company takes waste from Israel and illegal Israeli Settlements and dumps this on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill.
Veolia’s failure to win the WLWA contract is a heavy blow for the company because it owns a domestic waste depot in the area covered by the WLWA and so should have been ideally placed to meet some of the necessary criteria for the WLWA tender.
This blow comes only six months after it failed to win Ealing Council’s £300m new ‘Clean and Green’ contract even though Veolia already did much of the work under the old contract. When bidding for that contract, Veolia had faced determined opposition from Palestinian rights campaigners over its track record in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Campaigners across the world are focused on Veolia because it is a key target of the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (‘BDS’) movement for Palestinian rights, which is led by Palestinian civil society organisations.
The BDS movement aims to pressure companies doing business in Israeli settlements to end their economic ties with Israel, in order to pressure the state of Israel using economic means to adhere to its obligations under international law.