Press TV – April 11, 2014
Israeli officials have unveiled the model of a Jewish temple near the al-Aqsa Mosque Compound in East al-Quds (Jerusalem).
Palestinian activists say the model of the so-called third Jewish temple has a big hall and can accommodate hundreds of visitors each day.
Israeli authorities hope the project could attract tens of thousands of local and foreign tourists every year.
The al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and heritage says the move is a direct threat to the mosque.
The organization argues that the project is aimed at building enough support to make a Jewish temple on al-Aqsa site.
Palestinian groups have already warned of large-scale Israeli excavations near al-Aqsa’s southern gate.
On February 25, the Israeli parliament, Knesset, discussed a plan to annex al-Aqsa Mosque Compound.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has condemned the debate as a “dangerous escalation,” calling it part of Israel’s goal to “Judaize Jerusalem.”
The Israeli Knesset is set to discuss a proposal later this week to place the so-called Temple Mount, where Al-Aqsa Mosque is located, under Israeli sovereignty.
Palestinians have denounced the plan as desecration. They say it is part of the Israeli regime’s ongoing attempts to distort Arab and Islamic history.
Over the past decades, Israel has tried to change the demographic makeup of al-Quds by constructing illegal settlements, destroying historical sites and expelling the local Palestinian population.
Israel will surround the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas until he accepts the Israeli terms and recognises Israel as a Jewish state, Israel’s top negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said yesterday.
Livni told Israel’s Channel 10 that Israel will not release Palestinian prisoners who committed violent acts against Israeli citizens. “Israel will not release Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands,” Livni said.
Livni claimed that several Arab countries have told Israel they will not transfer funds to Abbas pointing out that she had visited friendly Arab countries 11 times in the past 50 days.
“The city of Jerusalem is the capital of the state of Israel and the Arab and Islamic countries do not object to that,” Livni claimed.
BETHLEHEM – A group of Christians from East Jerusalem on Sunday said that Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian mobility resulted in violations of religious freedoms.
The statement, signed “Palestinian Christian Organizations in Occupied East Jerusalem,” complained that Christians are often denied access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre during the Easter holidays.
Each Easter, checkpoints are erected “at the Gates and in the alley, thus preventing the worshipers from free access to the Via Dolorosa, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and the vicinity of the Christian Quarter.”
Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian Christians are a part of larger strategy of Judaization in Jerusalem, the statement said.
“The restrictive measures constitute grave violation on the freedom of worship, and amount to discrimination against Christians because the occupation authorities want to negate Christian presence and create the impression of a Jewish-only city.”
Both Christians and Muslims are often “unable to worship freely and to be with their families and friends” during religious holidays because of Israel’s actions, the statement went on to note.
The organizations called on Christians to make attempts to attend Easter celebrations in Jerusalem despite the countless restrictions.
In a report published in 2012, the US State Department made similar observations.
“Strict closures and curfews imposed by the Israeli government negatively affected residents’ ability to practice their religion at holy sites, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, as well as the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem,” the report said.
“The separation barrier significantly impeded Bethlehem-area Christians from reaching the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem and made visits to Christian sites in Bethany (al-Eizariya) and Bethlehem difficult for Palestinian Christians who live on the Jerusalem side of the barrier.”
East Jerusalem, including the historic Old City, was occupied by Israeli forces in 1967 and later annexed in a move not recognized by the international community.
The Israeli Ministry of the Interior approved on Friday a plan to demolish a large section of the historic Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan, in East Jerusalem, to construct an archaeological center proposed by a nationalist right-wing ethno-religous organization which aims to expand Jewish settlement on Palestinian land in east Jerusalem.
The people of Silwan have faced colonization efforts for the last dozen years – from approved Israeli government projects that involve demolitions of residents’ homes, to forced evictions from their ancestral homes by armed Israeli settlers who force their way in to the houses and push the Palestinian families into the street.
Numerous forced evictions have been documented by the Silwan Information Center but the Israeli police have refused to take any action against the settlers. Instead, they have, on multiple occasions, forcibly removed the tents of residents who camped out on the street in front of their homes after their homes had been taken over by Jewish settlers.
In the project approved on Friday, the right-wing Israeli settlement organization Elad will run the center, which is set to be constructed across from the ‘Dung Gate’ entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. Elad also runs the controversial ‘City of David’ Israeli national park nearby, which was also constructed over an alarming number of demolished Palestinian homes in Silwan. This is the only instance in which a private organization has been granted control of a national park in Israel.
Elad’s mission statement is to “strengthen the Jewish connection to Jerusalem, and this in the means of tours, guidance, populating, and publishing material.”
According to the Silwan Information Center, “In practice, Elad feverishly worked to gain ownership of houses and lands in the village and particularly in Wadi Hilweh [in Silwan].”
In its approval of the new project, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior said that, “As a tourist attraction, this will contribute to the development of the city of Jerusalem.” When completed, the multi-level building will take up 16,000 square metres (172,160 square feet).
In response to previous archaeological projects by Elad, the Palestinian Authority’s archaeological and cultural heritage expert stated, “The sort of archaeology being carried out in Jerusalem, specifically in East Jerusalem and the Silwan area, is motivated by hidden agendas and has nothing to do with scientific objectives. It is done secretly, without taking into consideration international standards, and casts great doubts on the objectives of these excavations.”
Journalist Emily Hauser, of the Jewish Daily Forward, wrote last month, after the Israeli government handed over control of the southern part of the Western Wall to Elad, “Elad’s mission sits hand in glove with the larger government goal of tightening control over the entirety of 21st century Jerusalem, making the possibility of sharing the city with a future Palestinian state infeasible.
Jerusalem-based archaeological NGO Emek Shaveh has found that Elad’s decisions about where and how to excavate in the area are rooted in political considerations about establishing an Israeli presence and staying one step ahead of the diplomatic process, with the understanding that “’local and international public opinion will not create pressure against them.’”
Tel Aviv district court on Monday convicted former prime minister Ehud Olmert in a trial for corruption linked to a major property development in Jerusalem, Israeli media reports said.
The ruling marks the first time a former Israeli premier has been convicted of bribery in what has been called one of the worst corruption scandals in the country’s history.
According to public Channel 1 television, Olmert was convicted on two counts of receiving bribes linked to construction of Jerusalem’s massive Holyland residential complex dating from when he was the city’s mayor.
Olmert, 68, who could face up to 10 years in prison when sentencing is handed down at a later date, will appeal the verdict, his spokesman Jacob Galanti said.
In 2012, Olmert was acquitted of major charges in separate cases involving his links to a US businessman while he was Jerusalem mayor and an Israeli cabinet minister.
Handing down the conviction on Monday, Judge David Rosen told Tel Aviv District Court the case “exposed governance that grew more corrupt and rotten over the years”, with bribes paid to public officials.
“We’re talking about corrupt and filthy practices,” David Rosen said while reading out the verdict, his remarks playing out across all Israeli media.
He also spoke of a “corrupt political system which has decayed over the years… and in which hundreds of thousands of shekels were transferred to elected officials.”
Rosen also said the former premier had lied to the court in a bid to “blacken the name” of the state’s witness.
Olmert, who is remembered in Lebanon for spearheading the 2006 assault on the country that killed over 1,200 people, reportedly sat expressionless throughout the verdict.
In 2010, Olmert was named the key suspect in the so-called Holyland affair on suspicion that he received bribes totaling some 1.5 million shekels ($430,000, 312,000 euros at today’s exchange rate), although the prosecution later reduced the sum received by about half.
He was mayor of Jerusalem from 1993 to 2003, after which he served as a cabinet minister, holding the trade and industry portfolio as well as several others, before becoming premier in 2006.
He resigned from the premiership in September 2008 after police recommended that he be indicted in several graft cases.
In July 2012, a Jerusalem court found Olmert guilty of breach of trust in a closely watched corruption case, but cleared him on two more serious charges related to the alleged receipt of cash-stuffed envelopes and multiple billing for trips abroad.
He was fined $19,000 and given a suspended jail sentence for graft.
The conviction related to favors that Olmert granted a former colleague while serving as the trade and industry minister.
(AFP, Reuters Al-Akhbar)
Jerusalem, Palestine – The chronic tyranny brought by the Israeli occupation has had a devastating effect on the well being of the Palestinian community. But one of the worst effects is the internalization of oppression and the undermining of Palestinian’s collective self-concept. I have observed that since the 2006 elections in Palestine—which were followed by an arrest of the elected parliamentarians and an international boycott of the elected government—the vigorous spirit of the Palestinian community that had previously evolved during long years of resistance has finally been reduced to a state of demoralization.The undermining of this election represented an additional bitter blow after the more subtle impact of the Oslo Accords, which had been originally promoted as part of the Palestinian liberation project. However, reports published on the Accord’s 20th anniversary showed that during this period the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank had doubled and the area controlled by settlements had expanded to 42 % of Palestinian land; furthermore, a system of restrictions on Palestinian movement and trade had continued its division of Palestinian families and its decimation of the economy. Not to mention the infamous collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli security forces that has secured for Israelis a profitable trade and tourism through bed and breakfast hotels overlooking the magnificent hills of the West Bank, dismantled resistance, and incarcerated more Palestinians in prisons.
Over years of occupation, young Palestinians saw their fathers dragged from homes by Israeli soldiers, humiliated at checkpoints, and rendered unable to provide for their families’ safety and basic needs. In reaction to their feelings of shame, such vulnerable children came to identify with the oppressor through oppressing weaker members of their community and developing self-loathing. A Palestinian Jerusalemite told me, “On holidays I don’t go to Eilat because it will be full of Arabs!” The efforts of some Palestinians to assimilate and identify with Israelis are truly pathetic. Some Palestinians shop for their clothing in Israeli boutiques, dress their hair in Israeli salons, and drive while listening to loud music in Hebrew. I have observed more than one Palestinian patient suffering a relapse of manic illness who spoke to me in Hebrew as an expression of grandiosity. Meanwhile, the reality of job opportunities in the West Bank is dismal and work conditions are miserable, so that many laborers are eager to work for Israelis even if they must work in settlements or participate in projects such as building the separation wall. These workers are often treated by Israelis as sub-human: a few months ago Ahsan Abu-Srur, a 54 year old unauthorized Palestinian construction worker from Askar refugee camp, was seriously injured while doing renovation work in Tel Aviv. Realizing that he was critically injured, the Israeli contractor and two of his workers dragged the man to the sidewalk opposite the workplace and left him there to die.
The experience of oppression undermines the internal cohesion of the oppressed and creates among them a state of polarization, in which they often direct their rage at others who are similarly victimized. Oppression makes people selfish and greedy, prone to infighting and competition over scarce resources—the scraps of opportunities left over from the oppressor. Oppressed people readily become resentful and envious of one another, creating an ambiance of mutual distrust.
The sense of inferiority resulting from internalized oppression sets into motion a vicious cycle. We are treated as inferior—and in the absence of resistance, resilience and self-defense, we internalize the assumption of our own inferiority. Thus we come to believe that we are less capable and less worthy than others. These feelings are then projected onto our perceptions of one another and enacted in our treatment of one another. In this way, Palestinians come to distrust and devalue their own educational and medical systems; there is a spiteful oppression of women, a contemptuous attitude towards persons of a lower socioeconomic class, and an exclusionary and intolerant attitude towards political opposition—just a few manifestations of our internalized oppression.
Nowadays, there is a widespread, corrupt system of influence and cronyism in Palestine such that most people are employees of the government. As a consequence, our agriculture is suffering, small independent businesses are crushed, and only the enterprises of a tiny minority, closely allied to the government can flourish. Young people are trapped in a cycle of consumerism, with new apartments, cars, and big loans from banks requiring a relentless lifetime of repayment. The result is decreased social involvement and productivity and rising rates of crime, addiction and diminished wellbeing. Pervasive inadequacy throughout our institutions, nepotism, false representation and mistreatment and torture of Palestinians by fellow Palestinians are just a few of the symptoms of the general degradation of our community.
Community leaders and politicians fail to restore our national dignity and pride by taking steps to break through this vicious cycle and shedding light upon resilience, productivity, authenticity and steadfastness. We remember the submissive words of the President following the western boycott of the electoral results, “If we have to choose between bread and democracy, we choose bread.” Since the partition between the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian official discourse seems to confuse the doer and the do-ee. In its relationship with Israel, our officials assume the role of the oppressor, condemning spontaneous Palestinian reactions to Israeli violations and promoting meek submission to Israeli oppression. The people of Palestine are cast by our leadership into the role of the suspect, the offender; such reactions only feed into the entitlement of the occupier’s spin on reality, which turns us into victimizers and assumes the role of the victim.
The submissiveness urged by our leaders goes beyond condemning armed resistance to trivializing non-violent measures such as the imposition of boycotts and the use of international law to hold Israel accountable for its actions; the Palestinian official position toward the Goldstone report on Israel’s war crimes is an illustrative example. We should not be deceived by the exaggerated festivities surrounding the UN General Assembly’s change of Palestine’s “entity” status to “non-member observer state.” The change in status was just a smoke screen to blur our perception of the revolutions taking place within the Arab world. We may have retitled our postal stamps by the addition of the words, “State of Palestine,” but have yet to take a single war criminal to the Hague and have yet to pursue our legal right to Palestinian land, waters, or air space—as any sovereign state recognized by the UN would surely do. Instead, “secretive” negotiations continue in the dark while Israel continues to approve the construction of more settlement homes in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and the demolition of more Palestinian homes.
The Palestinian President reassures the world that a Palestinian state will be demilitarized while two thirds of the national budget goes to our [internal] security forces. Meanwhile, healthcare, education, social welfare, and all other national programs survive on one third of the budget! We need only look to our neighboring Arab countries who were impoverished for decades as they fed the fat cats who ran their armies, while their own starving people were duped into the belief that these armies would “defend” them one day. Now these armies devour the very same people who had supported them—but are we Palestinians any better?
Internalized oppression is driven by several engines.
The first is media. Anger and dissatisfaction create the momentum for social change, but an artificial leisure and entertainment industry will blind and distract a frustrated public from the reality around them and create a false consciousness. Local media bombard our eyes and ears to dull our critical faculties and weaken our ability to protest, resist, or revolt. Media owners and their donor capitalists ally with the political elite to impose their tastes and ideology on the public. Mohammad Assaf, the Palestinian winning Arab Idol, is a good example—a charming vocalist with a beautiful voice. But the media promotes this triumph as the symbol of “the Palestinian plight,” and mobilizes the public to become consumers of a simplistic, reductionist, and deceptive exploitation of his charm; a thing of beauty can be used for ugly purposes. One might ask why the local media failed to make an equal effort to mobilize against the siege on Gaza, the Prawer plan, or in the service of transparency regarding the ongoing negotiations—matters which connect directly with most Palestinians and their plight!
International donation is the second engine. It is a paradox that oppression can come to us through the doors and windows of freedom, openness, and efforts to do good. In her study, “Promoting Democracy in Palestine: Donation and the Democratization of the West Bank and Gaza,” Dr. Leila Farsakh concluded that such projects sought to promote the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority rather than empowering the Palestinian public to challenge the dominance of the Authority or to critique its definition of the national liberation project. Donor-driven projects fail to devote sufficient attention to important institutions central to the democratic process, such as the parliament, political parties, and the electoral process. In the end, these projects tend to entrench the occupation rather than helping Palestinians to create the conditions for national liberation; these projects tend to intensify the grip of the Authority instead of strengthening independent-minded channels.
The third engine is the domain of education and institutionalized religion. This year, five Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem substituted the Palestinian curriculum with the Israeli one. The Jerusalem municipality went on to award the administration of these five schools by increasing the personal salaries of their principals and paying them 2,000 NIS for every student registered in their schools. A mere glance at the Israeli curriculum reveals how it distorts history, religion, geography, and eventually the mindset and the national culture of pupils: In one textbook, two pupils discuss how Israel brought electricity to their village and granted national insurance to children and their elders; the pupils conclude that they should join the celebration on “Israel’s Independence Day.” And while some of our children are savoring a toxic dose of Israeli indoctrination, others are anesthetized by some misleading religious leaders who form an unholy league with political and financial power elites. Manipulating the public with an insidious form of mind control, they come up with “teachings” promoting a fatalistic, mystical frame of mind and issue “fatwas” that promote compliance and conformity. These religious leaders promote the status quo with all its agony and disadvantages and inhibit people from embracing genuine reform and social change, encouraging people to pin their hopes on the afterlife rather than dealing with the misery of the here and now.
In conclusion, since decisions and behaviors of our leaders do nothing but establish internalized oppression, it becomes the social responsibility of ordinary people to work actively to recognize and alleviate this threat to wellbeing, in order to prevent the demise of the Palestinian spirit and cause. Raising awareness about the phenomenon, monitoring and protesting its appearance in official discourse and behavior, bearing witness, empowering economic development, resisting consumerism, connecting them with their own history and community, and helping them to analyze reality— are just a few tools to liberate Palestinians from internalized oppression. So much has been done to efface, harm, eradicate the Palestinian nation or to disfigure it forever. We cannot simply wait for justice to happen—justice is something we must work hard to actualize. Sacrifices must be made and sometimes risks must be taken to snatch our life from the jaws of death. Commitment, awareness, wisdom, and planning are required for recovery and salvation of this injured life—as we want a decent life, not any life. Our work for healing and recovery is indivisible from our work for liberation.
- Samah Jabr is a Jerusalemite psychiatrist and psychotherapist.
JERUSALEM – The Israel Antiquities Authority has destroyed several ancient archeological sites and antiquities as a result of a controversial dig in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said Tuesday.
The authority recently began the final stage of archaeological excavations at the site, which is located in the Wadi Silweh area only 20 meters from the walls of the Old City, the foundation said in a statement on Tuesday.
As a result of the excavations, several ancient Islamic archeological sites and antiquities have been destroyed, including a cemetery that dated back to the Abbasid caliphate.
Additionally, the dig has damaged relics that date back to the Jebusite Canaanite era in the second millenium BC, the Al-Aqsa foundation alleged.
The excavations are the continuation of an Israeli project to build a biblical park in the area alongside the City of David archaeological park, and will feature a “museum of Jewish history” and a “Jewish national park.”
The excavation site measures around six dunams (1.5 acres) and runs 20 meters deep in some places.
The excavations are connected by a network of tunnels that “the Israeli occupation has been digging under and around Al-Aqsa Mosque,” the statement said, pointing out that the third-holiest site in Islam is located only 100 meters from the site itself.
The foundation said that the Ir David Foundation — commonly known as Elad — is funding the excavations as part of a plan to build a seven-story building which will serve as a Jewish cultural center.
The excavation site is located on what used to be private Palestinian land owned by the Siyam family from Silwan. The land was confiscated by Israeli authorities for the dig.
Israel frequently permits excavations and archaeological digs in East Jerusalem, specifically around the Al-Aqsa mosque and in the Silwan neighborhood, that threaten the structural integrity of Palestinian homes and holy sites in the area.
Critics charge that the digs search for ancient Jewish ruins at the expense of existing homes, and that Israeli archaeologists often ignore and even damage non-Jewish artifacts.
In 1967, Israel demolished the 800-year-old Moroccan Quarter of Jerusalem, displacing 650 Palestinians and destroying numerous mosques, homes, and holy sites, in order to build a plaza in front of the Western Wall.
Israel also evicted around 6,000 Palestinians from nearby areas in order to massively expand the city’s historical Jewish Quarter.
The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
The Jewish Ateret Cohanim organisation said it has bought “a very large and strategic building” situated across from the Old City in the heart of the commercial Palestinian neighbourhood in Jerusalem and it aims to change it into a religious school, Israeli newspaper Haaretz said today.
Ateret Cohanim is active in buying Arabic Palestinian properties in the old city of Jerusalem, as well as in East Jerusalem. It changes the properties, which were owned by Arabs, into Jewish facilities for the purpose of Judaising Jerusalem.
In a letter sent to the organisation affiliates by post, executive director Daniel Luria said: “The organisation bought more than 1,000 square meters in a big and strategic building located on front of the Old City, in the area between Al-Amoud and Al-Sahera Gates. It is the building of the central post office.”
Pictures of the building were attached to the letter. Built during the Jordanian control over Jerusalem, the building served as the headquarters of the central post office in Jerusalem, as well as a police station.
Luria told the members of his organisation that the building is to be used as an educational centre for religious school students.
Another message sent via e-mail on Tuesday was entitled: “Great news from Ateret Cohanim”. The letter tells the members that the organisation has bought the building of the central post office with funds from a generous donor.
The message called upon organisation members to keep the news secret until it gained control of the building during Passover, which starts on April 14.
Luria sent the message to the organisation members in the occasion of the Jewish Purim, when the Jews are called to generously give alms. The message called upon members to donate towards the building of a kitchen, bedrooms, hall and offices, as well as for furnishing the security room.
The message said: “To those who support the vision of a unified Jerusalem and to those who believe in the right of any Jew to study and live anywhere in Jerusalem, it is the time to reinforce the Jewish existence in the heart of Jerusalem.”
The message said this is the biggest seizure of an Arabic building in the Old City, which is considered the heart of the commercial centre of Jerusalem. It noted that renovation works have been carried out silently.
The building is under the Israeli Land Authority which rented it to the Israeli Post Authority.
Similar to Ateret Cohanim, the Israel Elad organisation has been carrying on Judaisation activities. It buys properties in central Arabic neighbourhoods and brings Jews to live in them.
Israeli non-governmental organisations, which fight settlement construction, said they did not know about this issue. Advocate Daniel Sigmund said: “A new settlement procession in East Jerusalem has been revealed. This puts peace talks at stake.”
Sigmund said that this settlement effort is supported by the Israeli government and it aimed at creating a new reality in Jerusalem.
Ard Kanaan News Agency | March 12, 2014
Veolia is a French company specialising in environmental work in the fields of water, recycling, energy and transportation. The company has recently had a lot of media coverage given its contribution to supporting Israeli settlements.
The company has been registered by international activists concerned with the Palestinian cause on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) list since 2005, “due to their immoral work serving the occupation in various areas in Palestine”.
Currently it is involved in a railway project in Jerusalem that links the illegal West Bank settlements and Jerusalem which is considered one of the occupation’s main means and an important step in the context of the Judaisation of Jerusalem project and the expansion of settlements in the city. It not only transports Israelis passing through, but also facilitates access between the new Israeli settlements and the settlers as a means of easing settlements and outlining a mechanism and infrastructure for its expansion. This is considered a violation of the Geneva Accords which prohibit the occupation from transporting its citizens to occupied territories, so this is not only a clear violation of Palestinian rights, but also a violation of international agreements made in this regard.
Veolia’s activity ranges between environment workshops, water and transportation, as it works through one of its subsidiaries (T.M. M.) and Tovlan Landfill, near Jericho, as a report by Corporate Watch Research Group, specialising in monitoring the work of international companies, stated the violations made by Veolia with regards to the management of the landfill. Veolia buries the waste of 21 settlements in the landfill near the Jordanian border, this has many health and environmental “side effects” on neighbouring Arab villages such as Fasayil and Abu Al `Ajaj, leading to the displacement of the residents of the latter, the population dropping to 200 residents from thousands in 1999, the year the landfill was established.
There are also those who leave their homes during the summer only to return in winter when the smell from the landfill is not as strong. The livestock, which is the main source of income for locals, also suffered big losses.
The residents of these villages are also deprived of electricity, while the residents in settlements have electricity and water at discounted rates in order to motivate them to live in settlements. The recycling of the waste in the landfill contributes to the provision of electric energy by means of renewable energy.
Who works in the landfill? Palestinians work in the landfill and they are deprived of any labour rights, as their wages are half the minimum wages set for Israeli workers and they are deprived of work and health insurance.
The company also has shares in the bus routes, such as route 109 and 110, which provide transportation for settlers on Highway 433 in the West Bank running through the settlements. The occupation enforces apartheid/segregation rules on highway 433, as Palestinians are not allowed to use the highway.
Veolia is also involved in facilitating Israeli exclusion operations, as well as facilitating the transfer of settlement waste, transporting it to Palestinian areas and causing many long-term health and geographic problems. This has encouraged the indirect expulsion of Palestinians, all of which has contributed to the process of racial segregation in transportation in those areas.
Similarly, it has recently provided water and sanitation services to many of the Israeli occupation’s settlements in the occupied West Bank, including the Modi’in Ilit settlement located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in the occupied Palestinian territories.
This means that three out of Veolia’s four subsidiaries – water, waste and transportation – actively work to support settlements.
Veolia’s activities are considered a flagrant violation of international law, specifically Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.”
International law also prohibits Israel from using occupied land for its own benefit and, therefore, burying waste from the settlements in the occupied territories is a violation of United Nations Resolution 63/201 dated January 28, 2009, which:
“Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, not to exploit, damage, cause loss or depletion of, or endanger the natural resources in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.
Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, with respect to the alteration of the character and status of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
Also calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to cease the dumping of all kinds of waste materials in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.”
In addition to violating international law, Veolia’s acts violate the resolution of the Arab summit in Khartoum, in March 2006, which provides for the following:
The condemnation of the project aiming to link West Jerusalem to the occupied West Bank through occupied East Jerusalem and the stressing of the illegality of this project. It also calls on the two French companies [Alstom and Veolia] to immediately withdraw from the project and demands punitive measures be taken against them if they don’t comply. The Arab Summit also urged the French government to take the necessary measures in this respect to honour its obligations under international law.
To top this all off, Veolia’s activity in the occupied territories contradicts the company’s declared goals and strategies which aim to “reduce the negative environmental impacts of waste” and “help raise the citizens’ standard of living.”
It is clear that Veolia selectively applies these goals, as it only aims to raise the standard of living of the settlers, at the expense of the Palestinians and in violation of international treaties and the most basic human rights.
This company’s long history of racism and the oppression of the Palestinians’ rights was enough to convince the public opinion in different parts of the world to boycott it.
The campaign to reduce the company’s activity and completely boycott it was successful in impacting its work, which has suffered due to losses estimated at more than $12 billion over the past six years in order to prevent the renewal or signing of new contracts in many countries worldwide. These include Australia, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland and finally England. In addition to this, a coalition of boroughs in south-west London refused to bid on the tender offered by Veolia for a £1 billion waste removal deal last April. In January 2009, Veolia lost a contract worth €3.5 billion Euros to run the metro in Stockholm.
In addition to the efforts made globally to boycott this company and reduce its activity, French company Alstom, a company working in partnership with Veolia on the Jerusalem railway project, linking Jerusalem and the settlements, lost the second phase of the Saudi Haramain Railway project, which connects Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. This is in spite of the fact that the company had previously won the contract for the first phase. The value of the second phase contract is about $10 billion.
Since the end of 2008, the BDS National Committee, along with its partners, have made popular, official and media efforts in order to convince the Saudi authorities to exclude Alstom from the Haramain Railway deal due to its involvement in the Israeli occupation’s projects aiming to Judaise Jerusalem. Many letters and documents to this effect were sent to official parties in Saudi Arabia from the BDS Committee, as well as several official, popular, Palestinian, Islamic and international parties in the context of a coordinated campaign targeting this company.
Veolia in Saudi Arabia
Despite all of the information mentioned above, all the background information, business links, relations with the Israeli occupation and settlement operations, as well as its direct involvement in facilitating the expansion of settlements and the Judaisation of Jerusalem, and in spite of the boycott exercised by British and other organisations and governorates against Veolia, it has continued to operate and make outrageous profits in Saudi Arabia for years.
The company’s work in Saudi Arabia is narrowed down to the fields of water, sanitation and water desalination. It exists in Saudi Arabia through the Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, Saudi Industries Ltd, with branches in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. Veolia also operates in Saudi Arabia under the Sidem Saudi Ltd, one of Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, Saudi Industries Ltd’s subsidiaries, which has branches in Jeddah, Khobar and Jubail. Sidem specialises in designing and building large desalination plants.
Veolia Water Solutions & Technologies, Saudi Industries Ltd has landed many large contracts with the Saudi government in recent years. The two contracts worth noting are the desalination plant contract with the Power and Water Utility Company for Jubail and Yanbu, signed in 2007, and the management, operation and maintenance of the water and sanitation sector deal in the Saudi capital Riyadh, signed in 2008.
In 2007, Veolia signed a contract with the Power and Water Utility Company for Jubail and Yanbu to establish one of the largest water desalination plants in the world worth $945 million. One year before signing the deal, Saudi Arabia signed the Arab Summit resolution in Khartoum.
Furthermore, Veolia has landed 62 water desalination contracts in Saudi Arabia since 2007. In 2008, Veolia signed a large contract with the National Water Company to manage, operate and maintain the water and sanitation in the Saudi capital Riyadh. Veolia expects this deal to achieve a $60 million profit.
In December 2011, Veolia signed a contract with the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals to establish research centres in the Dhahran Techno Valley.
While Alstom – Veolia’s partner in the Judaisation of Jerusalem project and the Jerusalem railway project, connecting Jerusalem to the settlements – lost the second phase of the Haramain Railway project worth about $10 billion, Veolia (in full partnership with Alstom) is signing contracts worth billions of dollars in Saudi Arabia, despite its blatant violation of international law and the rights of the Palestinians.
Veolia has been working in Israel before it entered the Saudi market, and its involvement in settlements began very early on, before it made any deals with the Saudi government.
It is both embarrassing and astonishing that Veolia’s involvement in the settlements was not taken into account when it was awarded these huge business deals in Saudi Arabia and that the vast global BDS campaign against Alstom and Veolia in 2011 did not impact Veolia’s operations in Saudi Arabia, as the company signed an agreement with the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in December of the same year.
It is also shameful that at a time when international companies and parties are taking a stance against this company for violating the most basic human rights in Palestine and its participation in the brutal Israeli occupation and settlement, the Saudi government is signing contracts with the same company in various business areas. This in a country which is supposedly a leader in the belief in Palestinian rights, as well as protecting such liberties and condemning all human rights violations during this serious Palestinian tragedy.
A company with such a shameful history of working to enhance Israeli settlements should not find a work environment that opens the doors to trading in a country like Saudi Arabia, which has a long history of supporting the Palestinian cause.
While Veolia is losing billions of dollars in contracts in Stockholm and London, it is signing a billion dollar deal in Jubail and making profits of up to $60 million dollars in Riyadh!
The least that is expected of Saudi Arabia is not to sign contracts with Veolia, to pressure the company and make it choose between carrying out its responsibilities in accordance with international law, stop supporting the settlements and violating the rights of the Palestinians or to get out of Saudi Arabia and cease all forms of business with it.
Translation by MEMO
The Israeli water company Jihon said on Friday that 80,000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem have been without water for more than three days.
In a statement Jihon said: “About 80,000 Palestinians in four Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem and its outskirts have been suffering from complete loss of water for three days.”
The Israeli company said that it would like to supply water for all consumers in Jerusalem, including Jewish and Arab citizens, but the water infrastructure in the Arab areas is decaying. It also said that the increasing number of inhabitants contributes to the problem.
Meanwhile, the Arab inhabitants at the Palestinian refugee camps of Su’fat, RasKhamis and Ras Shihadeh, as well as Al-Salam Suburb, said they have been suffering from a complete water shortage for several days.
The residents said in a statement issued on Saturday that tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and citizens in the three residential gatherings in Jerusalem have been without water since the beginning of last week.
According to the statement the Palestinians said that they did not know the reason why the water supply stopped.
The statement also blamed the company Jihon, which is the only body that has a permit to supply water to Jerusalem, for the water shortages. “It started reducing water portions two weeks ago,” the statement said. “And in the end it completely stopped the water.”
Deputy head of the Popular Committee in Su’fat Refugee Camp, Khalid al-Khaldi said: “There are about 23,000 Palestinian refugees and citizens in the camp and they have not had water for three days. In Ras Shihadeh, there has been no water for 20 days.”
He reiterated that there has been no water in Ras Khamis and Al-Salam Suburb for a long time either.
Al-Khaldi blamed the UNRWA, which is responsible for the Palestinian refugees, for the water problem. He called for it to immediately move to solve the problem.
Housing demolitions carried out under the pretext of unlicensed construction are a common occurrence in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians are rarely granted permits by the Israeli authorities to build houses in the city. Apartments prices have risen drastically in Jerusalem — 120 m apartment would cost approximately $350,000. As a result, they are forced to build without a permit, which often results in the Israeli authorities issuing demolition orders on unlicensed buildings.
In 2013, 82 houses owned by Palestinians in Jerusalem were demolished, effecting 281 people. In recent years, self-demolition of houses has become common in East Jerusalem as the Palestinian owners of “unlicensed” houses are forced to choose between demolishing the houses themselves or paying the Jerusalem municipality to do so for them.
In this video Muhammad ‘Amireh speaks of his experience of having to demolish his own house.
Jerusalem – A video, captured by Rami Alarya of the Alqods Independent Media Center, showed a number of Israeli soldiers assaulting a Palestinian child, on Friday evening, February 4 2014, after shooting him by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the leg, and photographing themselves abusing him.
The soldiers assaulted the child during clashes that took place in the al-Ezariyya town, east of occupied East Jerusalem.
One of the soldiers tried to push the cameraman, Alarya, and his colleague, Amin Alawya, away from the scene, and was yelling at them, “Enough, enough…. go away… what do you want…”
Medical sources said the soldiers shot the child, Yassin al-Karaky, 13 years of age, with a rubber-coated metal bullet, which hit the 13-year old in the leg. After he fell, the soldiers began assaulting and abusing him.
The attack took place after soldiers, who hid in a building near the Annexation Wall in the Qabsa area, ambushed a group of children, and one of the soldiers opened fire on the children.
Then several soldiers attacked and assaulting the wounded child before kidnapping him.
The soldiers took pictures of themselves with the wounded child, and a soldier picked up a Molotov cocktail from the ground, while the child shouted in Hebrew, “it’s not mine, it’s not mine”, and a soldier responded, “it’s yours, it’s Ok… it’s yours”.
One of the soldiers was holding him in a choke-hold, and was mocking the child by imitating wrestling moves while other soldiers took pictures, although the child was barely able to breathe.
The soldiers then placed the child in their jeep, while one of them was still filming the incident.