Kingston Peace Council

CAMPAIGN FOR NUCLEAR DISAARMAMENT

 

For the attention of Local Authority Legal Departments:-

Veolia and Local Authority Tendering.

 

Fair Trading:

Under EU fair trading rules a contractor can not legitimately be excluded from tendering for local authority contracts on a whim or because of bias or partiality lest local authorities may expose themselves to legal action and penalties. There are however legitimate circumstances for the exclusion of potential contractors under Public Contracts Regulations 2006, section 23 (4 (e)), notably illegal activity or “Gross Misconduct”. See the Geneva Conventions attached.

 

No Prejudice Against Veolia:

No one is prejudiced against Veolia which has a substantial record of providing quality services around the globe; however Veolia, through various subsidiaries and consortia, is actively aiding and abetting the Israeli colonization of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank which is illegal under international law.

 

Moral Case Problematic:

There is an irrefutable moral case for boycotting a contractor that is commercially engaged in processes that grossly discriminate against and blight the lives of the indigenous families of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. It could be problematic to rely on such argument to justify the exclusion of a potential contractor from a tendering process despite the facts being almost universally acknowledged. Some of the contractual obligations that Veolia (Israel) entered into may date back to an earlier period when the Oslo Accords created an atmosphere of optimism, falsely, about accommodation of the legitimate rights of the indigenous population of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank. The occupying Israeli authority has since dashed hopes of those prospects, instead persisting in a colonization process and the imposition of gross discrimination, deprivations, oppressive restrictions and arbitrary maltreatment of the indigenous population under repressive military domination.

 

The Colonization Process Illegal:

Almost unbelievably the Israelis now claim legitimacy of ownership of approaching one half of the territory of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank which was invaded in 1967. This is not just not recognised under international law but it is illegal – see Geneva Conventions attached.

 

The Colonization Needs Services:

The pattern of Israeli colonization is not geographically cohesive and, in order to facilitate a degree of connectivity, transport connections are needed for the illegally settled Israelis in the Occupied West Bank. Israeli-only roads with military guards and barriers are the most familiar and obvious manifestation of this provision but viable public transport is another requirement such as the busses, No’s 109 and 110, which Veolia helps provide through its subsidiary, Connex. Such Israeli-only transportation operating on Israeli-only roads, connecting Israeli settlements to Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem is not a public service provided for the indigenous population as required under the Geneva Conventions. It is a service facilitating the illegal occupation and colonization. Under illegal Israeli military occupation all forms of transport and access are rigidly segregated and, whilst the Light Tramway project built and run, by a consortium of contractors including Veolia, in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank may have been thought initially to have been a facility that could offer advantages to the indigenous population, it is now absolutely clear that it will, in service, further facilitate the colonization process in territory east of Jerusalem. All forms of Israeli-only transportation help improve the connectivity of settlements, planned and already built, which are often not geographically connected. This makes viable the occupation of settlements by Israelis and Jews from around the world, the life and commerce of settlements, and access. In turn, the contractors stand to profit from increased development, occupancy, and clientele. Refuse disposal from the increasing Israeli settlement of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank is an increasing necessity and obligingly Veolia is contracted to help through its refuse disposal site in the Jordan Valley area of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, Tovlan. The plant at Tovlan generates power for the consumption of Israeli settlers and industries in the Jordan Valley area of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank; from where the indigenous population is excluded by the occupying authority. Neither the Israeli authorities nor contractors can legitimately claim ownership of any of the land on which development has been built since it was all seized in 1967 by military invasion.

 

The Law and Occupation:

All military occupation of states and territories is legally required to be temporary. The occupier MUST not transfer any of its own population to any occupied territory for settlement or colonization. The occupier MUST NOT appropriate land and facilities in occupied territory, with the exception of temporary circumstances of absolute military necessity. An occupier MAY temporarily govern the occupied territory in the interests of the indigenous population whose rights and interests are paramount.

 

The Spurious Argument that Veolia (Israel) is not Veolia:

There is a not-uncommon interpretation of EU fair-trade law which says that Veolia (Israel) is an entirely separate entity, and however it behaves or is complicit in illegal activity or ill-treatment of Palestinian families or deprivation of Palestinian rights and entitlements, the rest of the Veolia group of companies is ‘clean’ and ‘legitimate’, innocent and entirely insulated and uncontaminated. No doubt Veolia consists of a global and international network of companies and subsidiaries but in no way can a legitimate argument be sustained to demonstrate that each subsidiary and division is an entirely separate legal entity without commitments and responsibilities to the whole. The company reports make no pretence of making such a claim – quite the reverse. When a local group of council-tax-payers approached Richmond-on-Thames Council with a series of queries, about the activities of Veolia in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, the Council forwarded questions to Veolia for comment. In Veolia’s response they did not claim that Veolia (Israel) was nothing to do with Veolia (GB) or with the Veolia group, but they responded with a detailed apologia and explanation of the activities of Veolia in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank.

 

‘Separate Entity’ Argument a Dangerous Misconception:     

An alternative to the ‘separate entity’ argument is, we believe, the right and proper recognition of the fact that Veolia is one multinational company and, should the company be guilty of breaches of international law or complicity in breaches of international law or guilty of gross misconduct, then any local authority that does not exclude Veolia from a tendering process, on those entirely legitimate grounds, is itself acting prejudicially because it is not excluding a contractor with a known record of misconduct nor differentiating between contractors having a record of dubious legitimacy and those who do not. In these circumstances contractors, not complicit in the subjugation of Palestinian families and their legitimate rights, and the illegal colonization of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, could have legitimate cause for complaint.

 

Responsibility of UK Local Authorities:

It is our conclusion that Veolia is a contractor that is actively and commercially engaged with and complicit in the subjugation of the indigenous population, the denial of their rights under international law, and the illegal colonization of the Occupied Palestinian West Bank; and is profiting from it’s engagement. Under EU fair trade law local authorities ought to exclude Veolia from tendering processes on these grounds, and not to do so may be a potentially dubious and dangerous option. We urge local authorities to urgently require their legal departments to consider the points above and review the legitimacy or otherwise of tendering arrangements for their local authority contractors.

 

 

Disclaimer: Kingston Peace Council/CND does not pretend to claim any specialist or intimate knowledge of the circumstances itemized above. Information was gleaned from a variety of sources and was believed correct at the time of writing. Our opinions and interpretations may be one of several possible. Our principal concern is for the future peaceful settlement of the ‘Middle East Problem’, for the long term benefit of all those people concerned, of whatever nationality, ethnicity, culture or faith. Points raised are intended only to address problems seen as obstacles to the realization of legitimate rights and the long-term peace for all parties. We unreservedly apologise for any factual errors or unnecessary offence caused.

 

 

 

Noel Hamel

Chair, Kingston Peace Council/CND

73 Northcote Road

New Malden

KT3 3HF

Phone: 020 8395 2656