Veolia pulls out – shows power of BDS movement

Veolia company has completely withdrawn from providing services to Israeli apartheid, due to pressure from global boycotts.

28/08/2015 Veolia company has announced it will stop providing apartheid train services for Israel and to its illegal settlements. Worldwide pressure on Veolia to pull out has come from global boycotts, dis-investments and loss of government contracts in a number of countries.

dump veolia bannerAotearoa BDS Network is pleased that Veolia has ended support for Israel’s apartheid systems.  Veolia also runs light rail services in Auckland New Zealand. A boycott campaign there, if exposing Veolia’s apartheid light-rail services to illegal Israeli settlements, could have potentially impacted on Veolia’s contracts and brought disinvestments.

 

The French multinational Veolia was targeted for boycotts, dis-investments and sanctions (BDS) because of its complicity with the Israeli occupation in four ways: (1) operating Israeli settler bus lines on segregated roads in the occupied West Bank, (2) operating a landfill dumping Israeli and settler trash on Palestinian land, (3) providing wastewater services to illegal apartheid Israeli settlements in the Veolia train imageoccupied West Bank, and (4) investment in the [East] Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR). The light rail was an apartheid service to connect the illegal settlements with Israel,  further entrenching Israel’s illegal colonization of the West Bank and annexation of East Jerusalem, among other related international law violations.

 

Veolia lost more than $20 billion in contracts following BDS campaigns worldwide, and began by selling off its Israeli bus services in September 2013. Then, this past April 2015, Veolia sold off its illegal Israeli settlement landfill and wastewater contracts. And as of this week, Veolia had sold off its final light rail JLR shares in the occupation, making this one of the most extraordinary global BDS victories to date, showing the unprecedented power of this movement! 

Veolia yellow info graphicThe Palestinian-led BDS movement is forcing major multinational corporations to change their behavior. Just a few weeks after BDS turned 10 years old, this victory illustrates the economic influence that BDS has achieved in its first decade.These corporate changes send a clear message to Israel, to corporations and to governments, that participation in Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people is costly and unsustainable. And they send the message to activists worldwide that together we can affect real change, and now is a critical moment to redouble our effort.

In Europe and America Veolia was under particular pressure from boycotts, disinvestments and sanctions (BDS) for providing apartheid services in Israel. In St. Louis, a broad-based coalition of Palestine advocates, environmental justice activists, water workers, Organization for Black Struggle, and others waged a historic campaign to stop a proposed city water contract, forcing Veolia to withdraw its bid — a watershed, precedent-setting win. The United Church of ChristQuaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation, and retirement fund TIAA-CREF Social Choice Fund also divested from Veolia. These among many other successful U.S. campaigns have shown the multinational that no matter where it sought business, it would be held accountable.

Of course we in NZ must still keep an eye on Veolia, given that it is the largest water privatizer in the world. Veolia must still be held accountable for its serious environmental and labour rights violations, mismanagement, corruption, and other disastrous practices for which it is infamous.

And Veolia owes a great debt to the Palestinian communities it has harmed in its violations of human rights and international law, and must pay reparations.Restorative Justice is required.

Nonetheless, let’s take a moment to celebrate this incredible achievement, and get back to the important work of supporting our allies and BDS campaigns for freedom, justice, and equality.

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