Last month, Egged Bus Systems (EBS), a subsidiary of Egged Israel Transport Cooperative Society, Israelâ€™s largest public transportation operator, lost a bid for a decade-long contract to run public transportation in the North-Holland region of the Netherlands, which includes the countryâ€™s capital, Amsterdam. This contract was valued at 19.1 million euros a year, with a total worth of 190.1 million euros.
Egged Bus Systems lost this lucrative bid after Dutch BDS activists launched a campaign charging its Israeli parent company with facilitating grave violations of Palestinian human rights and international humanitarian law.
Specifically, Egged Cooperative operates Jewish-only buses to and between almost all of Israelâ€™s illegal settlements built on stolen Palestinian land in the militarily occupied West Bank, including remote outposts and East Jerusalem.
Egged buses traveling on Israeli settlement bus routes bar access to Palestinians. They use an extensive network of roads built to seamlessly connect illegal settlements on both sides of the illegal Israeli separation Wall to cities within present-day Israel.
The company thus supports and profits from a racist, segregated bus system that actively facilitates the maintenance and expansion of Israelâ€™s illegal settlements, which are themselves considered war crimes under international law.
A spokesperson for DocP, a coalition of Dutch BDS activists for Palestinian rights, said,
We are very happy with this result, with the fact that our regional government rejected Eggedâ€™s bid to run North-Hollandâ€™s public transportation system.
People can now step into a bus in Amsterdam without helping pay for Israeli apartheid buses that discriminate against Palestinians. Without helping normalize coming and going from Tel Aviv to illegal Jewish-only settlements built on stolen Palestinian land.
There is nothing normal about the daily oppression faced by Palestinians, and Iâ€™m heartened that our Dutch BDS campaigns are growing in popular support and showing results.
Riya Hassan, Europeâ€™s campaigns officer for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) said:
Congratulations to all the activists, organizations and collectives in the Netherlands who successfully built on their earlier BDS campaigns to exclude from their communities a powerful Israeli transportation company that profits from segregated busing, segregated roads and segregated Israeli settlements illegally built on stolen Palestinian land.
You have helped ensure that the regional council of North-Holland adheres to its own obligations under international law by not aiding and abetting Israelâ€™s serious violations of Palestinian rights.
Egged Cooperative has also been accused of putting its Palestinian drivers in harmâ€™s way, and not doing enough to protect them from violent Israeli extremists. In 2014, 100 Palestinian Egged bus drivers resigned fearing attacks by Israeli settlers and after Palestinian Jerusalem-line bus driver Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni was found dead and hanging in an Egged bus.
Egged Bus Systems was one of four companies bidding for the lucrative public transportation contract in the Netherlands. The winning company Connexxion, a Dutch public transportation company, will provide buses and run public transportation in North-Holland for the next 10-years, beginning in July 2018.
Connexxion is itself owned by Veolia, a French corporate giant which was complicit in the Israeli occupation until an extensive BDS campaign cost it tenders around the world estimated to be worth over $20 billion, causing it to exit the Israeli market. Veolia and Connexxion have ended their complicity with Israelâ€™s violations of Palestinian human rights, but have yet to pay reparations to the Palestinian communities they harmed, and campaigners are still demanding that they do so.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Visit their website and follow them on Twitter @BDSmovement
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Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.