Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign – Press Release 18th March 2011
*Human Rights Campaigners lobby Leeds Council to exclude Palestinian Occupation complicit company Veolia’s bid for controversial city incinerator contract*
A visiting Palestinian-American journalist and a veteran Israeli academic peace campaigner on Monday (14/3/11) joined Leeds Palestinian rights supporters in endorsing the campaign seeking to persuade the City Council to exclude multinational firm Veolia from bidding to run the city’s proposed incinerator project. UK touring Ramzy Baroud (1a) – acclaimed author, journalist and former Al-Jazeera producer – was guest speaker at the AGM of Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign (2) also attended by visiting Ruth Cohn (1b).
Leeds PSC argue Veolia should be excluded from this lucrative council contract because of the company’s involvement in seeking to profit from supporting the development of Israel’s illegal Occupation of the Palestinian Territories (OPT) in the West Bank.
Veolia is one of the two final bidders to provide a waste treatment facility for Leeds to handle local black bin and black bag waste. The new facility is most likely to be an incinerator. It is currently being fiercely debated by the residents and the council, with the successful bidder selected in summer 2011(3).
The company has faced global pressure to cease providing waste and transport services to Israel’s illegal settlements in the OPT, including the construction of a tramway that the United Nations Human Rights Council deems “in clear violation of international law” (4). The line is set to link Israel with some of its illegal settlements. Veolia has faced a worldwide boycott and divestment actions from conscientious citizens across the world, leading to multi-billion pound divestment losses (5).
Several UK and Irish councils (6a-d) have already terminated business with Veolia on these grounds, most recent Edinburgh and Tower Hamlet Councils. Edinburgh council were warned by a leading law firm that employing the French multinational could expose the local authority to “legal action for failing to take on board their obligation to recognise and comply with their duties and responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions and international law.”
Leeds PSC has written on 3/3/11 to the council leaders and the chief executive, giving details of Veolia’s complicity in Israel’s violations of international and human rights law in Palestine. Leeds Trades Union Council also wrote on 11/11/10 to the council’s chief executive highlighting Veolia’s complicity in the OPT.
Leeds PSC has thus called on residents of Leeds to take actions to make known their objections such as contacting their councillors, signing petitions and attending protests and meetings to argue the case for the exclusion of Veolia from the contract. One resident has signed the online petition (7) with a message reading “The city of Leeds prides itself in its successful support and encouragement of fairness, equality, diversity and multiculturalism. It would be wholly inappropriate for this council to entertain dealings with a company such as Veolia and its shabby and complicit apartheid dealings with Israel within the Occupied Territories. Please reject any proposal from this firm.”
*Further info contact Leeds PSC Secretary via email@example.com *
Bin Veolia Campaign
Ramzy Baroud with Bin Veolia Banner
Ruth Cohn with Bin Veolia Banner
1a As pictured; www.ramzybaroud.net & http://palestinechronicle.com . Baroud’s latest book is http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745328812 “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter-
Gaza’s Untold Story”;
1b Cohn is an active member of Rabbis for Human Rights http://www.rhr.org.il/page.php?name=about&language=en and regularly attends the Sheikh Jarrah protests against Israeli settlements and evictions of Palestinians in East Jerusalem http://www.en.justjlm.org/what-is-our-struggle-about
2 Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign is affiliated to the national PSC (www.palestinecampaign.org) and aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine by Israel and the struggle of the Palestinian people against the injustice of Israeli apartheid. PSC seek to bring pressure on governments and others to act, to bring about an end to Israel’s violations of international law. PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with volunteering members from communities across the UK. See Leeds PSC “BIN VEOLIA CAMPAIGN” at http://www.leedspsc.org.uk/?page_id=317
3 Leeds City Council http://www.leeds.gov.uk/page.aspx?pageidentifier=b2474871-8662-44ab-8bf1-d008e9bd435e (see also “Residual waste treatment project update – September 2010”) states final 2 bidders are:
- Aire Valley Environmental who are proposing to build a facility at the current Knostrop sewage treatment site.
- Veolia ES Aurora Ltd who are proposing to build a facility at the former wholesale market on Cross Green industrial estate
4 Resolution A/HRC/RES/13/7 adopted by the UN Human Rights Council 14/4/2010 condemning Israeli settlements in the OPT, including East Jerusalem http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/0/37BF1829818D0B788525770D00536076 declares:
“The Human Rights Council… expresses its grave concern at: … (g) The Israeli decision to establish and operate a tramway between West Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Pisgat Zeev, which is in clear violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions”.
See also 18/10/10 http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/951/expert-at-russell-tribunal-to-accuse-bin-company-of-aiding-israeli-war-crimes – International People’s Tribunal created by a large group of citizens involved in the promotion of peace and justice in the Middle East
5 Palestinian Call 2005 for Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions- http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/4 Israeli media indicates Veolia face losing contracts due to involvement in the tram project, as well as prosecution in French courts 8/6/09 http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/business/jerusalem-rail-operator-jumps-ship-tel-aviv-group-isn-t-even-responding-1.277545
6a Edinburgh Council Boycotts Veolia
Edinburgh Councillors were each sent the following Veolia Briefing Document before the Council’s August 2010 meeting: http://www.scottishpsc.org.uk/index.php?option=com_phocadownload&view=category&download=96:veoliabriefingdoc&id=37:reports&Itemid=200704
Top law firm, Hickman & Rose advised Edinburgh Council leaders that contracting Veolia would expose the local authority to “legal action for failing to take on board their obligation to recognise and comply with their duties and responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions and international law.”
Legal Submission from Daniel Machover of http://www.hickmanandrose.co.uk on Veolia “Representations regarding Veolia Nov 2010”
6b Dublin City Council passed a resolution on human rights grounds calling on the City Managers not to sign or renew any contracts with Veolia on 12/6/10 http://www.peoplebeforeprofit.ie/node/382
6c Swansea City Council did likewise on 17/6/10. See Item 40 of council minutes:
6d Tower Hamlets council backs Israel boycott
7 Petition: “Exclude Veolia from all contracts that Leeds City Council awards”