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Posted on Sunday 3rd January 2010

Gaza and Veolia

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I have just sent the following letter to Paul Scriven, leader of Sheffield City Council. It will be interesting to see the response…I will keep you informed.

Dear Mr Scriven,

Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip killed 1,300 people (http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=82769&sectionid=351020202). Israel has admitted that it illegally used white phosphorous during its assault and Professor Richard Falk said the Israeli Defence Force’s actions ‘warrant the characterisation of a crime against humanity’ (Guardian, 3.1.09, p.28). I am very pleased that the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, has said that the Prime Minister ‘must condemn unambiguously Israel’s tactics’ and ‘halt Britain’s arms exports to Israel’.

At a local level, I understand that the council has set up a cross-party working group to look into the conflict in Gaza and the broader issue of illegal occupation in Gaza and the West Bank. I encourage you to adopt a robust stance in condemnation of Israel’s actions.

Veolia have a stake in the Jerusalem Light Rail Project (JLRT) which will link the city to illegal Israeli settlements ‘such as Pisgat Ze’ev, French Hill, Neve Ya’akov and Gilo in occupied east Jerusalem. Once built, the rail system will help to cement Israel’s hold on occupied east Jerusalem and tie the settlements even more firmly into the State of Israel.’ (From http://www.bigcampaign.org/index.php?page=veolia). Veolia state that ‘legal assessment has proved that this will involve no abusive expropriation’ and that a Veolia-commissioned opinion poll ‘demonstrates that a large majority of the local Palestinian population support the project’ (Jean-Dominique Mallet, CEO, Veolia Environmental Services UK). It therefore seems strange that the Palestinian Authority has taken Veolia to court in France, that Mahmoud Abbas asked the former French President to intervene in the matter and that Dutch bank ASN disinvested from Veolia over its part in the JLRT.

I am sure Sheffield’s ratepayers would be horrified to learn that their taxes support a firm involved in contravening human rights and international law (Mr Mallet concedes that areas served by the JLRT ‘are considered by the international community as “illegal settlements”‘). I therefore urge you to insist Veolia disinvest from the project or face losing their contract in Sheffield.

Thank you very much for your time, I look forward to your reply,

Yours Sincerely

Graham Wroe

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