Alstom, a French transport company, has announced their withdrawal from an Israeli light-rail project that is being used to annex illegal Israeli settlements into Jerusalem, citing potentially harmful human rights violations, and French law.
According to activists campaigning against the light-rail line, Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem, rapid development of settlements, and forced transfers of its Palestinian population, constitutes a plethora of international law violations.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital with the official transfer of the United States’ embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on 14 May 2018, has further aggravated the situation in Jerusalem.
The existing light rail line was build on illegally seized Palestinian land, and the planned expansion is meant to connect West Jerusalem with Israeli settlements constructed on stolen Palestinian land in the West Bank, in violation of international law.
According to the Worldwide Movement For Human Rights (FIDH), on June 13, 2018, eight organizations (L’Association France Palestine Solidarité, CFDT, CGT, FIDH, Al-Haq, LDH, l’Union Syndicale Solidaires and the Platform of French NGOs for Palestine) published a report called ”Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem: Three French Companies Involved in Light Rail Construction”, urging French companies to withdraw from the project.
The withdrawal of Systra, a joint subsidiary of SNCF and RATP, was announced on June 20, 2018, and now Alstom has announced its withdrawal from the project as well.
The number of candidates for the second phase of the Jerusalem light rail project, has decreased from seven to two.
FIDH called on the remaining businesses to follow suit, to show their refusal to endorse Israeli’s continued annexation of Palestinian territories by force, settlement expansion, or other violations of international law.
One French company, Egis, a subsidiary of the publicly funded company, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations (CDC), remains involved in the Jerusalem light rail project.
In the name of corporate ethics, for which no exception should be made, rights groups urgently called upon both the French government and the senior management of CDC to demand the immediate withdrawal of Egis from the project.
After the withdrawal of Alstom, which activists say is an important win, the FIDH said it is crucial that the French government and all other European governments take a clear stance against companies’ involvement in the Israeli policies of annexation, colonization, and occupation.