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Al-Haq Welcomes Bombardier’s Decision to Pull Out of Jerusalem Light Rail, Urges to Terminate Contract for the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem Rail Link

Tuesday, 14 May 2019 08:00 Date: 13 May 2019
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Al-Haq Welcomes Bombardier’s Decision to Pull Out of Jerusalem Light Rail, Urges to Terminate Contract for the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem Rail Link The Electronic Intifada reported on 8 May 2019 that Canadian engineering giant Bombardier pulled out from a bid to expand and operate the Jerusalem Light Rail.[1] The railway, currently consisting of the Red Line, is expanding to include a Green Line, a 19-kilometre line that would connect the “Hebrew University on Mount Scopus in eastern Jerusalem with the Gilo neighbourhood in south of the city and will connect with the existing Red Line at two locations.”[2] The Green Line will run through Palestinian territory unlawfully occupied by Israel since 1967, connecting settlements built on Palestinian land in violation of international humanitarian and human rights law. It should be noted that in order to maintain its unlawful settlement enterprise, Israel has established a segregationist and discriminatory ID system for the Palestinian population, built the Annexation Wall, deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice (ICJ),[3] and constructed bypass roads for settlements and settlers only.

The consortium, spearheaded by Bombardier and consisting of other businesses and investors, including Australian investment fund Macquaire, Austrian Wiener Linien and Germany’s Siemens, pulled out of the tender which would have aided  the construction and maintenance of the Green Line.[4] While Al-Haq welcomes Bombardiers withdrawal from the bid to expand and operate the Jerusalem Light Rail, Al-Haq remains concerned about Bombardier’s agreement from January 2018 to supply 54 Twindexx Vario double-deck coaches to Israel Railways for $126 million,[5] a transaction which may directly violate international law.

On 20 January 2019, Al-Haq sent two letters to the president and CEO of Bombardier in Quebec, Canada, and the President of Bombardier Transportation in Berlin, Germany, outlining in detail how Bombardier’s supplying equipment for and servicing the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem rail link expected to come into operation in 2020, may amount to the corporation’s potential complicity in aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).[6] The letters noted that “Bombardier should consider the human rights abuses present in areas linked to its business activities.”[7] In addition, “the Israeli railway serves to [further] entrench this fragmentation of Palestinian land and movement restriction,”[8] and disrupt the territorial contiguity of the OPT.

The letters also emphasized that when conducting enhanced due diligence, Bombardier should note how its relationship with Israeli railway, and expansion and operation of the Tel Aviv – Jerusalem rail link, would contribute to further appropriations and destructions of Palestinian lands, in violation of international law, including:

  • Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which affirms that the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” amounts to grave breaches;[9]
  • Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting “the individual or mass forcible transfer [...] from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country”;[10]
  • Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibiting the transfer of the Occupying Power’s population into the occupied territory;[11]

Al-Haq notes that the other four consortiums bidding on the Jerusalem Light Rail continue to be in violation of international humanitarian law, and must also withdraw, in order to comply with international law and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to avoid “the risk of aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes”.[12] The first consortium consists of Israeli infrastructure company Electra, France-based train manufacturer Alstom and Moventia, which runs public transport in Barcelona. The second consortium includes the Spanish train maker CAF. The third consortium still bidding consists of settlement-builder Shikun & Binui, Chinese train company CRRC and French investment fund Meridiam, financially backed by the French bank Crédit Agricole. The fourth consortium includes Greek infrastructure company GEK Terna and Greek state-owned Athens metro operator STASY.

[1] Abunimah, Ali. “Australian, Canadian firms pull out of Israeli settler railway”, 08.05.2019,

electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/australian-canadian-firms-pull-out-israeli-settler-railway

[2] ” Jerusalem light rail Green Line tender launched”, available at: https://www.railjournal.com/passenger/light-rail/jerusalem-light-rail-green-line-tender-launched/; Jabarin, Shawan. “Re: Supply of Coaches to Israeli Railways for use on Unlawfully Appropriated West Bank Land”. Received by Laurent Troger, 20.01.2019. Available at:

www.alhaq.org/images/stories/PDF/Bombardier%20Letter_Laurent%20Troger.pdf

[3] “Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory”, International Court of Justice, 24.11.2003. Available at:

www.icj-cij.org/files/case-related/131/1497.pdf

[4]  Abunimah, Ali. “Australian, Canadian firms pull out of Israeli settler railway”, 08.05.2019,

electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/australian-canadian-firms-pull-out-israeli-settler-railway

[5] (n 2).

[6] ibid

[7] ibid

[8]Jabarin, Shawan. “Re: Supply of Coaches to Israeli Railways for use on Unlawfully Appropriated West Bank Land”. Received by Laurent Troger, 20.01.2019. Available at:

www.alhaq.org/images/stories/PDF/Bombardier%20Letter_Laurent%20Troger.pdf

Jabarin, Shawan. “Re: Supply of Coaches to Israeli Railways for use on Unlawfully Appropriated West Bank Land”. Received by Pierre Beaudoin, 20.01.2019. Available at:  www.alhaq.org/images/stories/PDF/Bombardier%20Letter_Mr.%20Pierre%20Beaudoin.pdf

[9] Article 147, Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). Available at: www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocity-crimes/Doc.33_GC-IV-EN.pdf

[10]  Article 49, Fourth Geneva Convention (1949). Available at: www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/documents/atrocity-crimes/Doc.33_GC-IV-EN.pdf

[11] ibid

[12]Jabarin, Shawan. “Re: Supply of Coaches to Israeli Railways for use on Unlawfully Appropriated West Bank Land”. Received by Laurent Troger, 20.01.2019. Available at:

www.alhaq.org/images/stories/PDF/Bombardier%20Letter_Laurent%20Troger.pdf

Jabarin, Shawan. “Re: Supply of Coaches to Israeli Railways for use on Unlawfully Appropriated West Bank Land”. Received by Pierre Beaudoin, 20.01.2019. Available at:  www.alhaq.org/images/stories/PDF/Bombardier%20Letter_Mr.%20Pierre%20Beaudoin.pdf

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