Companies involved in Jerusalem light rail expansion accused of violating international law

In June 2018, a group of international, Palestinian, and French NGOs published a report accusing Alstom, Egis Group, and Systra of violating international law due to their involvement in expanding the Jerusalem light rail system. According to the report, the aim of the rail system is to “connect West Jerusalem to Israeli settlements located on occupied Palestinian territory in East Jerusalem… and encourage the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.” The companies are allegedly furthering the Israeli occupation, in contradiction to France’s official position as well as the companies’ own human rights commitments.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Alstom, Egis Group, and Systra to respond to these allegations. Only Alstom responded (statement available below).

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Company non-response
6 August 2018

Egis Group did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Egis Group to respond to allegations concerning violations of international law, due to its involvement in expanding the Jerusalem light rail system. Egis Group did not respond.

Company non-response
6 August 2018

Systra did not respond

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Systra to respond to allegations concerning violations of international law, due to its involvement in expanding the Jerusalem light rail system. Systra did not respond.

Company response
23 July 2018

Alstom responded

Author: Catherine Patillon-Kalfa, Alstom

... We refer to your email of 16 July 2018 and your invitation to respond to alleged violations of international law in the occupied Palestinian territories in relation to Alstom’s participation in the construction of the Jerusalem light-rail system. We wish to indicate that this matter has already been the subject of court litigation in France and the allegations and claims against Alstom were rejected. Indeed, following a legal action launched in 2007 by the Association France Palestine Solidarité (“AFPS”) and the Organization of Liberation of Palestine alleging violations by Alstom of international law and requesting to declare the relevant project contracts illegal, the allegations and claims against Alstom were dismissed. More precisely, after being unsuccessful for the plaintiffs in the Nanterre Court of First Instance in 2011, this litigation matter went up to the Versailles Court of Appeal, which confirmed through its decision of 22 March 2013 that Alstom did not violate international law taking into account its commitments deriving from the adhesion to the UN Global Compact...

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Report
13 June 2018

The Jerusalem Light-rail System and How French Companies Contribute to the Settlement of Occupied Palestinian Territory

Author: France-Palestine Solidarity Association, French Democratic Labor Confederation, General Confederation of Labour, International Federation for Human Rights, Al-Haq, Human Rights League, The Union Syndicale Solidaires, The Platform of French NGOs for Palestine

The current report, drafted by several civil society organisations, sheds light on and denounces the participation of the companies SYSTRA and Egis Rail in the construction of three new lightrail lines which connect the Israeli part of Jerusalem to the illegal Israeli settlements located in the Palestinian part of the city... The... report also calls into question the activities of Alstom, a company that has played a major role in the execution of the first phase of the light-rail system, continues to work on the existing network, and responds to calls for tender for new projects. The drafters of the... report have asked these companies to comply with the norms of international law mentioned above by ceasing any activity that contributes to Israeli settlements... Through their participation in the construction of the West Jerusalem light-rail network that connects West Jerusalem to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the companies that are the subject of the current report and their shareholders contribute directly to the perpetuation and expansion of Israeli settlement policy, despite international law... illegality of the settlements... European Commission guidelines... the warnings of the French Government concerning activities in the settlements, and... the resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Council calling for the implementation of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights...

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