Just six weeks after French-Belgian bank Dexia gave notice that it was looking for a buyer for its Israeli subsidiary company, the Israeli business news website Globes reported on 15 May that the bank will sell off its 65 percent stake in Dexia-Israel (established in 2001) “by the end of the summer,” even as the parent company faces a loss with its sale.
This news comes as a victory to the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. For two years, BDS activists in Belgium and the Netherlands — along with solidarity groups in France, Turkey and and Luxembourg — sustained a campaign against Dexia after it was revealed that the bank provided long-term loans to illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Who Profits, a project of the Coalition of Women for Peace, publicized Dexia’s role in financing the Israeli settlement industry.
For over two years, Dexia denied its responsibility in giving loans to illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Since the beginning, it played down its involvement in illegal activities to the extent that Dexia Chairman Jean-Luc Dehaene once stated: “East Jerusalem does not exist.” Today, the campaign is aware of 51 Israeli settlements that received funding through Dexia-Israel, making a total sum of nearly 40 million Euros.
This is not the first time that Dexia has cut off financing to some Israeli settlement projects due to political pressure from Palestine solidarity activists. In January 2010, Dexia cut the line of credit to several West Bank-based regional settler councils. Ma’an news reported then that seven months before that,
[o]n 13 May 2009, President of the Board of the Dexia group Jean-Luc Dehaene … announced at the General Assembly that settlement financing was not in line with the goals of the company. However, the decision only applies to settlements in the West Bank, and not those in East Jerusalem.
Organizers credited the 69 organizations that pulled together demonstrations, petitions, posters, and parliamentary questions, with what a statement called a “partial victory” against the colonization of the West Bank.
Veolia loses another bid
In other news, French transportation and urban systems company Veolia lost another garbage pickup contract in London, in a lengthening line of bids lost due to public pressure by BDS activists on local government councils. Veolia is a French-owned transportation and urban planning corporation that has several contracts with the Israeli government to provide services to West Bank settlements.
Veolia has lost the new joint East Hants/Winchester City contract for rubbish collection. Currently Winchester’s collection is in house, and Veolia has the present contract for East Hants. For fear of a legal challenge the Councils will not admit to accepting the grave misconduct charge against Veolia, so we cannot know for certain how much difference we made, but we can definitely claim a victory. After our campaign of demonstrations and presentation of a petition with signatures gathered in Petersfield and Winchester, Veolia has lost the contract. Her support for illegal settlements has been exposed and Israel’s violation of international law has been publicized.
Most recently, PSC noted, Veolia lost contracts in Edinburgh (December 2010), Richmond (February 2011), Portsmouth (March 2011) and a near-£1 billion bid in South London (April 2011).