70 Basque groups to CAF: get off Israel’s apartheid train!
Rights advocates in Basque Country have launched a campaign calling on the Basque company CAF to withdraw from Israel's project to expand the Jerusalem light rail serving Israel’s illegal settlements
On Saturday in Ordizia, Basque Country, BDS Euskal Herria (Basque Country) launched a campaign calling on the Basque company CAF to withdraw from an Israeli government project to expand the Jerusalem light rail (JLR) serving Israel’s illegal settlements in and around East Jerusalem, in the occupied Palestinian territory.
With 60 people from diverse Basque civil society groups in attendance at the Barrena Palace, organizers shared the campaign statement, which had already been signed by over 70 Basque groups. The statement describes the JLR project as “a new attack on the rights of the Palestinian people” and calls on CAF to “comply with international law, withdraw from the Jerusalem Tram project and thus end complicity in the occupation of Palestine.” The statement notes that, “Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal under international law as they violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
Among the groups signing the statement to date are trade unions including CCOO Euskadi; political parties Podemos Euskadi and Podemos Nafarroa; the environmental group Ekologistak Martxan Bizkaia; the anti-military group AA-KEM-MOC; as well as feminist groups, youth groups and social and climate justice movements.
Ester Muñoz, from the coalition CAF: Get off Israel’s apartheid train, said:
The fact that over 70 very diverse civil society organisations have signed our statement shows just how strong the consensus is in the Basque Country that CAF must end its complicity in Israel’s war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory. We will not stop until CAF gets off Israel’s apartheid train!
Attendees also watched the trailer of a documentary made by the Hala Bedi collective which shows how Israel designed the JLR to enable the annexation of more Palestinian land, especially in and around occupied East Jerusalem, and connecting Israel’s illegal settlements with West Jerusalem.
CAF was awarded the contract in August 2019 by Israel’s Ministry of Finance, along with CAF’s partner, the Israeli construction firm Shapir, which is listed in the newly released UN database of companies complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. Numerous international companies had withdrawn from the tender process, some of them explicitly citing their concern that the JLR project violates the human rights of the Palestinian people. CAF remained in the tender process, despite a number of requests for withdrawal by the company’s workers.
The Basque civil society statement reminds CAF that the French company Veolia was forced to withdraw from the JLR project in 2015 after suffering severe damage to its reputation and losing more than €20 billion in contracts as a result of its participation in Israel’s settler-colonial enterprise. It also notes that “by carrying out this project CAF is violating its own code of conduct,” which requires respecting human rights.
The campaign has the support of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for freedom, justice and equality.