Pressure Continues on Veolia and Alstom to Halt Light Rail Project
Adri Nieuwhof, The Electronic Intifada, 5 February 2010
Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and the annexation of East Jerusalem are illegal under international law. Numerous UN resolutions and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel's wall in the occupied West Bank have confirmed this. With their involvement in the Jerusalem light rail project, Veolia and Alstom are directly implicated in maintaining illegal settlements in the OPT. Moreover, the companies are playing a key role in Israel's attempt to make its illegal annexation of Palestinian East Jerusalem irreversible.
Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem after the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war, successive Israeli governments have tried to expand its claims on the city as the capital of Israel. East Jerusalem, which contains the historic Old City, was annexed by Israel after the war, a move that was not recognized by the international community. The Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), which operates under the 1988 Jerusalem Development Authority Law, was established to further entrench Israeli control over the city. Indeed, the Prime Minister's Office and the mayor of Jerusalem sponsored a JDA program to work toward this goal. On its website the JDA is very clear about the role of the Jerusalem light rail project, stating that "The investment in the light railway project was one of the government's key strategies to empower Jerusalem as a capital."
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to openly claim all of Jerusalem -- including occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem -- as the capital of Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu told reporters at a press conference during the elections early February 2009, "We did not return to Jerusalem after praying for it to be rebuilt for 2000 years in order to give it up. We did not unite the city in order to divide it, and my government will maintain a united Jerusalem. A sane country does not give its capital to its enemies." A few months later, Netanyahu addressed an official ceremony on 21 May, stating that "United Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. It will never again be divided or cut in half. Jerusalem will remain only under Israel's sovereignty. Government spokesman, Mark Regev, expressed the same view telling the BBC on 25 November 2009, "We make a distinction between the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jerusalem is our capital and remains such."