No to Veolia Action Group members demonstrate in north London, November 2012(No2VAG)
Amid stiffening opposition, Israel occupation profiteer Veolia has withdrawn its bid for a major contract in London in the final stages of the process.
“The North London Waste Authority has received notification from Veolia Environmental Services that they will not be submitting final tenders for either NLWA’s waste services or fuel use contracts,” said a 21 December statement from the body responsible for waste management for seven local authorities in the UK capital.
The statement confirmed that “Veolia had been shortlisted for both contracts,” which have a total value of four billion pounds.
The annoucement came after mounting opposition to the bid, spearheaded by the No to Veolia Action Group.
In November, Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, wrote to NLWA to urge them not to award the multi-billion pound contracts to Veolia “due to its deep and ongoing complicity with Israeli violations of international law.” He warned NLWA that “to provide access to public funds to Veolia may contravene the UK’s international legal obligation not to facilitate Israeli violations of international law.”
Veolia and its various subsidiaries are involved in a number of Israeli projects supporting illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories including the Jerusalem Light Rail and Tovlan landfill.
Falk’s intervention garnered significant local media attention which culminated in criticism of Hackney Council, one of authorities served by NLWA, for blocking a member of No to Veolia Action Group from addressing one of its meetings. Israel lobby groups later boasted publicly about their behind-the-scenes role in blocking the hearing.
Welcoming the news, No To Veolia Action Group chair Yael Kahn said in a press release, “Our strategy to force councillors to seriously consider and publicly debate the issues at stake and the further actions planned [by No to Veolia Action Group] played a critical role in achieving our aim of eliminating Veolia from the NLWA procurement process.”
Engineer Rob Langlands, another member of the group, said Veolia’s proposals would not have been cost effective or environmentally friendly adding, “I am especially delighted because of the ongoing Veolia involvement in the illegal Israeli settlements that the Veolia bids have now been consigned to the rubbish bin.”
Being effectively forced out of the London bid is the latest setback for the beleaguered multinational occupation profiteer, which has been denied contracts in several European cities in the wake of campaigns by Palestine solidarity activists.
In what may be a North American first, the city of St. Louis City, Missouri this week declined to approve a contract with Veolia pending an investigation into the company’s activities after a campaign by the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee. Local public radio reported that the decision was prompted by “concerns about the company’s human rights practices and financial condition.”