Birmingham incinerator and refuse tip operator Veolia operates a tramway linking illegal settlements in East Jerusalem with Israel and takes the settlements’ refuse at its Tovlan landfill site in the occupied Jordan Valley. Veolia also operates bus services connecting illegal Israeli settlements to Israel. Palestinian use of these services is either forbidden or severely restricted.

veolia tram settlementsThe United Nations Information System (UNISPAL) was established by the Division for Palestinian Rights in response to General Assembly mandates. In a UNISPAL report presented to the General Assembly, Professor Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, mentions Veolia’s involvement in the light rail system (“Situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”). He concludes that, “all companies that operate in or otherwise have dealings with Israeli settlements should be boycotted, until such time as they bring their operations fully into line with international human rights standards and practice” recommending that they should immediately suspend “all operations, including the supply of products and services, which aid in the establishment or maintenance of Israeli settlements”.

The Mail reports that the Veolia contract with Birmingham City Council runs out in 2019 and council officers are already planning for the next major waste contract. The company has been warned it may not get its 25-year contract renewed if it continues to carry out illegal work on Israeli settlements in Palestine.

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Last year the council adopted a Business Charter for Social Responsibility under which major contractors must show they are good employers and ethical businesses. One obligation is to “Support the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.

Campaigner Jolyon Jones (Social Work Action Network), who set up a petition which may be seen on the council website, said: “Veolia environmental services is in breach of international law through its work which supports the development of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank. This is in conflict with the council’s business charter for social responsibility. Will the council press Veolia to conform to and sign the charter?”

Labour cabinet member for contracts Councillor Stewart Stacey said that adherence to the Business Charter would be mandatory for Veolia’s successor: “I came into politics to fight discrimination and will do all I can to ensure that clause is included in contracts which will replace existing one in 2019”.