Activists at CAF’s shareholders meeting: Get out of occupied Jerusalem; get off the Apartheid Train!

Marking CAF’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), human rights activists once again demonstrated at CAF’s offices in Beasain (Basque country, Spanish state), where the “AGM ceremony” was taking place, to tell CAF and its shareholders to stop this illegal business in occupied Jerusalem!

On Saturday, June 10, 2023, during CAF’s annual shareholders' meeting, the company's image and reputation took a hit. Over a full week of actions, the global #CAFGetOffIsraelsApartheidTrain campaign exposed CAF’s role in Israel's crimes against Palestinians. 

CAF’s complicity with Israel’s apartheid regime:

The Basque company CAF is expanding and operating Israel’s illegal Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR). JLR is a tram system that connects West Jerusalem with illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem. As such, the JLR supports Israel's illegal de jure annexation of East-Jerusalem and facilitates the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements. Settlements, which entail the transfer of Israeli civilians into occupied territory and the forcible displacement of Indigenous Palestinians from the occupied city, constitute a war crime under international law.

Under the current far-right Israeli government, land theft, annexation, ethnic cleansing, home demolitions, settlement expansion, and pogroms against Palestinians perpetrated by armed, fascist settler militias’ are increasing at an alarming rate. 

In East Jerusalem, at least one third of all Palestinian homes are at risk of demolition, which would mean the forcible displacement of some 100,000 Palestinians. Israeli forces and illegal settlers also persistently desecrate and obstruct Palestinian access to Muslim and Christian holy places in the occupied Old City of Jerusalem.

Israel is only able to maintain this oppressive regime over the Indigenous Palestinian people because of the international complicity of states, institutions, and corporations. CAF is one of them.

By being a major partner in the JLR project, CAF is complicit in these serious Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights.

CAF operates and expands the JLR’s “Red Line” and is building the new “Green Line”, providing vehicles and technical services. Both lines connect illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem with West Jerusalem. 

Popular opposition to CAF’s business with the JLR:

Over the last three years, a powerful global coalition to pressure CAF to end its contract with the JLR has formed. CAF’s own workers have called on the company not to participate in the tender for the JLR. In February 2020, 70 human rights advocates in the Basque Country launched a campaign calling on CAF to withdraw from the contract. In November of the same year, 31 organisations, including Amnesty International Spain, urged the UN to include CAF in the upcoming update of the database of businesses involved in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise. 

Eight Norwegian trade unions have called for a boycott of CAF and for excluding the company from tenders. Similarly, a Europe-wide campaign, from Portugal to Finland, is mobilising pressure on public institutions to refrain from contracting with CAF until it respects Palestinian human rights and ends its involvement in Israeli annexation and war crimes.

In early June 2023, ahead of CAF’s AGM, Amnesty International Spain published the report “CAF's Jerusalem tramway: next stop, apartheid”and organised a conference about“CAF and its controversial involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail project”. Amnesty International Spain warned CAF about greater losses in the future if it continues to deny its responsibility for grave human rights violations committed in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Meanwhile, activists in Calgary (Canada) and Strasbourg (France) have also exposed the Basque multinational’s complicity in Israel’s apartheid. 

In Calgary, the “CAF Out of Calgary” campaign has been mobilising pressure for several months to get the Calgary city council to cancel its contract with CAF for light rail vehicles because of the company’s business involvement in Israeli’s illegal JLR in occupied Palestinian Jerusalem.

In Strasbourg, activists with BDS France 67 and the “Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine” (CJASCP) gathered in the city centre to distribute leaflets to passers-by, raising awareness about CAF’s complicity in Israel’s crimes against Palestinians as CAF has recently opened a factory in Reichshoffen (France), near Strasbourg.

Activists to CAF shareholders: get out of occupied Jerusalem; get off the Apartheid Train! 

On the day of CAF’s 2023 AGM in Beasain (Basque Country), BDS Euskal Herria, CAF workers, Amnesty International and their supporters gathered in front of CAF’s offices. They called on shareholders to end the company’s involvement in the Jerusalem Light Rail and then marched to the centre of town and distributed leaflets to raise awareness about CAF’s complicity in Israel’s gross violations of Palestinian human rights among the people of Beasain, where CAF is the principal employer. 

Following the march, the radio Halal Bedi media broadcast its Uhintifada radio program live in front of the AGM building, inviting shareholders, activists with BDS Euskal Herria, staff of Amnesty International Spain and others to expose CAF’s complicity in Israel’s illegal settlements and annexation of the occupied Palestinian city. 

Inside the AGM, Santiago González, a CAF shareholder and campaigner of the Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe (CSCA), as well as Gerardo Ríos and Cecilia Denis of the “business and human rights” working group of Amnesty International Spain, confronted  CAF’s Board of Directors with several questions about CAF’s human rights due diligence policy in connection with the JLR. Since the company denied once more any shortcoming, Santiago González asked: “What kind of due diligence procedure allows business with enterprises such as Shapir which is listed in the UN database  for their involvement in Israel’s illegal settlements –a war crime?”

Last year, the Spanish OECD Contact Point (NCP) recommended that CAF assess the damage and violations of human rights caused by its business with the JLR in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Under pressure to deflect the NCP recommendations, CAF commissioned a report on the social impact of its participation in the JLR project. Questioned by Amnesty International Spain, CAF’s Board of Directors informed that this report would not be published. Instead of providing transparency and allowing critique of the report,  CAF President Andrés Arizkorreta García simply claimed and informed CAF’s shareholders that the company’s policy on human rights meets “all the relevant requirements and approvals” .  

As confirmed by the Human Rights Council in 2013 (A/HRC/22/63/para 117), “Private companies must … take all necessary steps - including by terminating their business interests in the settlements - to ensure that they do not have an adverse impact on the human rights of the Palestinian people, in conformity with international law as well as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”. It is therefore highly problematic for CAF to argue that it respects human rights while supporting illegal settlements and annexation. Since the CAF-commissioned report that justifies the unjustifiable has been leaked, a critical analysis of this report will soon become available for shareholders, human rights activists and the wider public.

Since during its 2023 AGM, CAF betrayed, once again, its social responsibilities and continues its involvement in the JLR, we call on people worldwide to intensify our #CAFGetOffIsraelsApartheidTrain campaign until the company CAF ends all complicity in Israeli apartheid, settler colonialism and occupation.


Stay updated!

Sign-up for news, campaign updates, action alerts and fundraisers from the BDS movement.

Subscribe Now