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BDS victory: Veolia loses huge waste-treatment contract in London boroughs

Veolia logo
Veolia logo

The following press release went out yesterday concerning Veolia, the French company that built the tramline serving settlements in occupied East Jerusalem:

Human rights campaigners are celebrating after the West London Waste Authority (‘WLWA’) excluded French multinational Veolia from a £485 million contract covering 1.4 million inhabitants of the London boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond-upon-Thames, for treatment of residual domestic waste.

The reasons behind the decision by the WLWA to exclude Veolia are commercially confidential but the impact of human rights campaigners should not be under-estimated.

Over the last six months campaigners lobbied Councillors and Council officials to exclude Veolia from the contract and submitted a letter to the WLWA – signed by nearly 600 local residents – documenting Veolia’s direct complicity in grave breaches of international and humanitarian law in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Campaigners pointed out that:

Veolia helped build and is involved in operating a tram-line which links Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in the Palestinian West Bank.
Veolia takes waste from Israel and illegal Israeli Settlements and dumps this on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill.

The letter also gave evidence of Veolia’s racist recruitment policies in Israel, as well as the company’s operation of buses on Highway 443 which Palestinians are prohibited from using.

Veolia’s failure to win the WLWA contract is a heavy blow for the company because it owns a domestic waste depot in the area covered by the WLWA and so should have been ideally placed to meet some of the necessary criteria for the WLWA tender.

Worse still for Veolia, this blow comes only six months after it failed to win Ealing Council’s £300m new ‘Clean and Green’ contract even though Veolia already did much of the work under the old contract. When bidding for that contract Veolia had faced determined opposition from Palestinian rights campaigners over its track record in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Campaigners across the world are focussed on Veolia because it is a key target of the global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (‘BDS’) campaign for Palestinian rights and which is led by Palestinian civil society organisations.
Sarah Colborne, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the UK , commented :

‘Complicity in infringing human rights and international law has become an expensive business for Veolia. Other companies please note: There is a strong, determined and popular international campaign for justice for Palestinians; if you aid Israel’s oppression of Palestinians your business will suffer just like Veolia’s’.

(PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from many communities across Britain)

(Hat tip Omar Barghouti)

Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK

PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from many communities across Britain.

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25 Responses

  1. annie on December 24, 2011, 11:36 am

    excluded French multinational Veolia from a £485 million contract

    great news, cut them off at the pass.

  2. HarryLaw on December 24, 2011, 11:37 am

    Good news indeed, the activists persuaded these London councils to exclude Veolia from public contracts to its “grave professional misconduct”. Under the UK Public Contract Regulations 2006, a contracting authority may exclude an economic operator from bidding for a contract or may reject any such bid where it is found that the individual or organisation has committed an act of grave misconduct in the course of his business or profession. The regulation follows European Law, directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts. Councils throughout the UK and throughout Europe must take this as a precedent or end up in court. Best Christmas present I’ve ever had.

    • annie on December 24, 2011, 12:26 pm

      Best Christmas present I’ve ever had

      Yeah, it’s an awesome christmas present! Harry, are you there in the UK? just curious..

  3. muzz al atesta on December 24, 2011, 12:00 pm

    excellent news & major props to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK) & co.

    best wishes & plenty of sumud in 2012

  4. HarryLaw on December 24, 2011, 12:54 pm

    Yes Annie, Roger, Roger.

    • annie on December 24, 2011, 1:19 pm

      harry, were you involved in making this happen?!?

  5. HarryLaw on December 24, 2011, 1:49 pm

    I was not Involved with this although I know Danial Machova [solicitor] did a lot of the ground work, I am involved in other prospective legal actions involving Title and Property, Rights and Interests, specifically, property from OPT being sold in UK stores in breach of 1 international Law, and the Resolution passed in 1943 at the International Law conference, briefly its mandate was to upgrade the Hague Regulations as they were not specific enough on property transfers, particularly because of the nazi depredations in much of occupied Europe, these resolutions were put together by the leading jurists of their time and represent the latest and definitive word on the transfer of property rights and interests both within and outside occupied territory, the USA, USSR, China and the United Kingdom and dominions amongst others adopted them, here are the first four resolutions:

    (1) The rules governing the validity in third countries of the acts of belligerent occupants and of transfers of, or dealings with, property, rights and interests of any description whatsoever derived from such acts, are rules of International Law the non observation of which entails International responsibility.
    Note: In courts of third States cases may be decided according to a variety of legal considerations, but the result must be in harmony with the rules of International Law, the main contents of which are set out below. The Conference has not discussed the conditions under which a third State that does not give effect to the said rules is liable to pay damages to the injured party and/or his State.

    (2) The occupant does not succeed, even provisionally, to the status or rights of the sovereign whom he displaces. The occupant has at most, under International Law, only limited rights or jurisdiction and administration; acts in excess of these limited rights are null and void in law and are not entitled to legal recognition in any country.

    (3) The rights of the occupant do not include any right to dispose of property, rights or interests for purposes other than the maintenance of public order and safety in the occupied territory. In particular, the occupant is not, in International Law, vested with any power to transfer a title which will be valid outside that territory to any property, rights or interests which he purports to acquire or create or dispose of; this applies whether such property, rights or interests are those of the State or of private persons or bodies. This status of the occupant is not changed by the fact that the annexes by unilateral action the territory occupied by him.

    (4) The civil administration established in a country subject to belligerent occupation has no status in International Law. Any rule of International Law establishing the invalidity of transfers of, or dealings with, property, rights and interests effected by the occupant applies also to similar transfers and dealings carried out by any associate or agent of the occupant acting for him or in his interest.

    As you can see, the occupant nor his associates or agents has the right to transfer a title of any property, rights and interests whether private or public to a third country in breach of International Law.

    This resolution can be used hopefully in our domestic courts. For instance our Sales of Goods Act states that a retailer must be able to pass good title for a sale to be legal etc. I will hopefully have more information in the near future.


    • ritzl on December 24, 2011, 2:51 pm

      Wow. Those requirements seem pretty plainly stated and relevant. Are they grounds for legally prohibiting the sale of occupation goods in the EU(?), as opposed to just suggesting people not buy them?

    • pabelmont on December 25, 2011, 8:24 pm

      Harry: Are these rules and/or (and news of their adoption by USA, UK, etc) on-line anywhere? I realize they are are from 1943, but a lot of old stuff does show up on-line.

      I’ll republish your notes on my blog,, but would prefer to have a LINK to these legal materials.

  6. patm on December 24, 2011, 2:00 pm

    What a legal maze you must navigate in this crucial BDS work, Harry! I wish you all the best with it.

    “excluded French multinational Veolia from a £485 million contract”
    Terrific news, this.

  7. mikeo on December 24, 2011, 2:18 pm

    Fingers crossed for the north london bid. I fear we may not be so successful there. Some of the councillors involved in the decision making process appear to be card-carrying zionists and they have been completely dismissive of approaches made to them about the legal complications that may ensue from any involvement with Veolia…

  8. HarryLaw on December 24, 2011, 4:56 pm

    The above Resolution was used in the petition to the Israeli High Court in Yesh Din v Commander of Israeli Defence Forces in the Quarries case, A fascinating case both from a legal and political point of view. Most International Law breaches documented there, a must read for mondoweiss readers over Christmas, especially insomniacs and/or Lawyers see here:-

  9. The Hasbara Buster on December 24, 2011, 5:19 pm

    But according to eee, BDS is failing.

    With failures like these, who needs success.

    • Chaos4700 on December 24, 2011, 5:35 pm

      As far as I’m concerned, eee can go right on yammering delusions to himself and others. Why not? It’s to everyone’s benefit that Arab-hating Israelis are completely blindsided by the campaign to rid our communities of their corruption.

  10. Walid on December 24, 2011, 8:31 pm

    A couple of years back, Veolia lost a 10-year 3.5 billion Euro management contract to run the Stockholm transit system because of its hanky panky with Israel. This year, Veolia in partnership with Alstom, lost a $10 billion contract to build phase II of the Saudi Arabia fast rail line, also because of its hanky panky with Isreal. And yet, Veolia and Alstom continue dealing with Israel in building rail lines in occupied Palestinian territories. Last year, Veolia tried pulling a fast one in Israel by selling its 5% stake in the Jerusalem light rail line to the Egged Bus company but continued managing the project under a management contract awarded to it by Egged. This sleazy excercise didn’t work with the Saudis that were under pressure by the BDS people that convinced them (thanks to the Arab Spring in the air) to still go ahead with blacklisting Veolia-Alstom from the bidding and ended awarding the contract to a Spanish consortium. The Alstom people still have work in progress for the Saudis worth billions on power and desalination plants.

    For BDS to really work, pressure has to be applied on Arab states that continue dealing with these Veolia-Alstom companies, as was done to make them lose the really big contract in Saudia. They finished not long ago building the subway/fast rail line in Dubai and they have been doing business all over the Arab world in spite of the wrong they are committing against the Palestinians. These rogue French companies have work coming out of their ears in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar Morocco and other Arab countries.

    More monkey business from Veolia earler this month as reported in Electronic Intifada:

    “Veolia blows it again by trying to promote “peace” through normalization sports event
    Submitted by Adri Nieuwhof on Mon, 12/05/2011 – 18:46

    French multinational Veolia is known for its involvement in several Israeli colonization projects in the occupied West Bank. In a public relations effort to sell a supposed commitment to peace, the company has lend its name to the Veolia Desert Challenge, an Israeli biking event held in the Naqab on 2 December.

    This year’s event included a “The Race for Peace”. The organizers were delighted to invite one hundred Palestinians from the West Bank to participate and to “create eye level encounters,” they write on the English page of the website. On the pages in Arabic and Hebrew it is written that this is the first time that Palestinians from the West Bank will participate in the Veolia Desert Challenge. “We believe that Sport is yet another way to bring people together, reconcile and break down barriers. We invite you, Arabs & Jews, to come and enjoy a sporting experience in the great outdoors.”

    The organizers target Palestinians with a web page in Arabic where they announce that participation is open to everybody from the West Bank, both sexes, if older than 14 years. Participation is free of charge for Palestinians, including travel costs from all governorates of the West Bank.

    On the website page in Hebrew there is the remark “Pay attention – for some of the Palestinian participants it is the first time they are meeting with Israelis, we’d be happy if you arrive early morning to welcome them.” This is a bizarre statement considering how the vast majority of Palestinians in the West Bank will have interacted with Israeli soldiers at any of Israel’s hundreds of checkpoints. It also ignores the fact that more than 500,000 Israelis illegally live on stolen Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

    Veolia’s ignorant execs would do well to read the Fact sheet of November 2011 from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territory which documents the aggressive behavior of settlers towards the indigenous Palestinians:

    •The weekly average of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage has increased by 40% in 2011 compared to 2010, and by over 165% compared to 2009
    •In 2011 three Palestinians have been killed and 167 injured by Israeli settlers. In addition, one Palestinian has been killed and 101 injured, by Israeli soldiers during clashes between Israeli settlers and Palestinians
    •OCHA has identified over 80 communities with a combined population of nearly 250,000 Palestinians vulnerable to settler violence, including 76,000 who are at high-risk

    Meanwhile, Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem writes about the checkpoints:

    Israel’s severe restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement in the West Bank are enforced by a system of fixed checkpoints, surprise flying checkpoints, physical obstructions, roads on which Palestinians are forbidden to travel, and gates along the Separation Barrier. The restrictions enable Israel to control Palestinian movement throughout the West Bank as suits its interests, in a sweeping breach of Palestinians’ rights.

    Prolonged checks and searches at some of the checkpoints, humiliating treatment by soldiers, and long lines deter Palestinian drivers from using some of the roads still open to their use. As a result, Palestinian movement on some of the main roads in the West Bank has dropped, and these roads are used almost exclusively by settlers.

    There will be hardly a Palestinian from the West Bank, if any, who has not met Israelis. For example, those who managed to participate in the Veolia Desert Peace Race had to ask Israeli officials for a permit to enter into Israel in order to be able to travel to the Naqab. If they received a permit in time, the next hurdle would be the Israeli checkpoints on their way. Israeli soldiers would have studied the papers and decided if they could pass…. I wonder how many Palestinians made it to the Veolia Desert Challenge Race for Peace.

    Supporting a “the Race for Peace” in the Naqab is not the way to support peace in the Middle East. A better way for Veolia would be to end immediately its involvement in all Israeli activities in the occupied West Bank.”

  11. mikeo on December 25, 2011, 11:10 am

    From the London campaign…

    A double Christmas treat

    A new record in Veolia’s free fall:
    Veolia’s share value dived further this week: 
    lowest share value in more than 5 years – £7.80 [down from £63] on Dec 20, 2011.
    However, as the attached graph shows, it seems 21st ended worse than the deep on the 20th – is it because of the loss of WLWA that was announced on the 21st? 

    A surprisingly factual report in the JC:
    The report on the Veolia loss in the staunch Israel can do no wrong weekly, informs readers of the Israeli crimes and Veolia’s complicity. A few of the worthwhile quotes:
    “The reasons behind the decision by the WLWA to exclude Veolia are commercially confidential but the impact of human rights campaigners should not be under-estimated.”
    “a letter to the WLWA documenting Veolia’s direct complicity in grave breaches of international and humanitarian law in Jerusalem and the West Bank.”
    “Veolia takes waste from Israel and illegal Israeli Settlements and dumps this on Palestinian land at the Tovlan landfill.”
    “‘Complicity in infringing human rights and international law has become an expensive business for Veolia.” 

    As a bonus, you may wish to read Hoffman’s comment of disbelief: “No evidence it has been excluded” and his other usual denials.

    The campaign in north London is against massive £4.7billion contracts [worth 10 times that in the successful campaign in west London].  We are encountering an unprecedented NLWA commitment to Veolia, which only this month has now started to show the first cracks. We successfully exposed the NLWA legal position was untenable and that Veolia’s Fuel solution was against NLWA’s own objectives. This resulted in the Fuel short-listing being deferred to next February – a desperate decision the NLWA made literally at the last minute. Hopefully we’ll win this one as well.

    The next No2VAG meeting in on Monday, 9 January, 2012 at 7:30pm, at: 
    The Regent (downstairs), 201-203 Liverpool Road, N1 1LX (Islington)  

    Yael Kahn

    • annie on December 25, 2011, 11:34 am

      lowest share value in more than 5 years – £7.80 [down from £63] on Dec 20, 2011.


  12. Basilio on December 26, 2011, 6:41 am

    Israel’s first supporters can claim that BDS is not working, but it is because it’s financially affecting plenty of Israeli and non-Israeli interests whereas before this was not the case, so that means they’re losing chances to make money in many cases. That would bother them, I am sure.

  13. HarryLaw on December 26, 2011, 12:31 pm

    I first came across the resolution in the 1957 book by Gerhard Von Glahn ‘The occupation of enemy territory’ Pages 194-95. He published this in full because of its importance. I could only find one copy in the UK which is in the bowels of the British Library in Euston, London.
    This was used by Attorney Michael Sfard in Yesh Din V Commander of Israeli defence force. The Quarries case page 21.
    See my earlier post of Dec 24th at 4:56pm for link to Yesh Din petition.
    The full resolution I also found on the encyclopedia of the Palestinian problem by Issa Nakhleh:
    But please pay note to July resolution not the January one.

  14. asherpat on December 27, 2011, 10:25 am

    Brent – 257,000 people
    Ealing – 318,000
    Harrow- 230,000 people
    Hillingdon – 266,000 people
    Hounslow – 237,000 people
    Richmond-upon-Thames – 191,000 people

    So “a letter to the WLWA – signed by nearly 600 local residents” represents, like nearly 1/2 of 1/10th of one per cent! Amazing support.

    • Bumblebye on December 27, 2011, 11:46 am

      I’m sure they reflect public opinion in much the same way and at least as well as heavily relied upon political polls, which might ask a thousand out of many millions of people their views or voting intentions.

      • asherpat on December 27, 2011, 12:58 pm

        @Bumbleye, pls explain – was there a random survey of a represntaive sample of the residents of these boroughs and “600” signed in support?

        If yes, then it will be interesting to see the results of such survey.

        However, if there was no such survey, and the “600” were political activists with an anti-Israeli agenda, then your reply makes no sense, would you agree?

    • mikeo on December 27, 2011, 4:29 pm

      Hmm, with such a pathetic percentage of residents expressing their objections, there must have been some serious “additional information” that was made available to the decision makers in order to prompt this decision to exclude them…

    • tree on December 27, 2011, 5:17 pm

      So “a letter to the WLWA – signed by nearly 600 local residents” represents, like nearly 1/2 of 1/10th of one per cent! Amazing support.

      The importance of the petition was not the number of signatures, but the information contained in the petition “documenting Veolia’s direct complicity in grave breaches of international and humanitarian law in Jerusalem and the West Bank.” Harry Law’s explanations above might help you out if you don’t understand the laws involved, which caused the WLWA to exclude Veolia from the contract. Law and human rights don’t require any set number of “signatures”.

      • asherpat on December 27, 2011, 6:36 pm

        @tree – If “Law and human rights don’t require any set number of “signatures”.”m why mention the numbers?

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